FSD Kenya has invested substantially in supporting savings groups (SGs) based on the hypothesis that these kinds of informal services are more accessible to underserved markets. Leveraging on local assets (such as detailed information about members’ backgrounds, transactions and behaviour, combined with social sanctions and social norms) enables savings groups to deliver a competitive value proposition for lower-income users, which the formal sector finds hard to beat. FSD Kenya has partnered with CARE- Kenya and CRS over a period of ten years to develop scalable and effective delivery models that make training available to established and new groups, as well as testing new solutions such as digital e-recording and linkage models to improve the services groups can offer.
Seeking to better understand both the impacts of groups and the drivers of these impacts, FSD Kenya commissioned a qualitative impact study of savings groups in Kenya, drawing on a cutting edge qualitative methodology for impact assessment, realist evaluation (RE). Realist evaluation understands impacts to be generated not simply as the direct result of an intervention or input (a supply-side view), but in relation to a two-way engagement which is also influenced by the motivations and contexts of users or beneficiaries. Attending closely to the influence of context and the reasoning of users, realist evaluation breaks down the impact pathway to identify the mechanisms through which outcomes are achieved at each stage, thus enabling us to better understand and make sense of the complex factors that drive the impacts of financial services in real world settings.