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About the Conference

Since 2011, The SEEP Network has led the Global Savings Groups Conference Series. The Global Savings Groups Conference is a biennial event that engages a large and diverse community of stakeholders, develops and promotes improved standards of practice, mobilizes knowledge, strengthens partnerships and alliances, and creates opportunities for cross-organizational learning. Each event in this series has also served as a catalyst to increase the scale, sustainability, and impact of Savings Groups in the host country and region.

The SEEP Network was delighted to host SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups, in collaboration with conference partners. SG2018 took place in Kigali, Rwanda, on May 22-24, and offered a platform for attendees to connect, engage, and learn from each other about the challenges and opportunities they face in supporting Savings Groups worldwide. In this pursuit, SEEP encouraged greater use of a wide range of innovative session structures and methodologies that build on emerging and accepted best practices in learning and the dissemination of innovations.

A special thank you to our local partner, Access to Finance Rwanda, for their support of SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups.

Technical Tracks

The conference agenda was organized around four technical tracks:

1. Systemic Approaches to Increase Scale, Sustainability, and Impact

2. Access to Formal Financial Services

3. Expanding Outreach to More Vulnerable and Diverse Populations

4. Savings Groups and Gender-transformative Initiatives

As Savings Groups have grown in popularity, the community is broadening to include practitioners that employ savings groups as part of coordinated development activities. SG2015, the third event in the series, engaged close to 400 participants, representing 147 organizations and 44 countries. It welcomed  a diversity of new actors, including private entities, commercial banks, mobile service providers, and practitioners from other allied sectors such as health.

SG2015 represented a community of stakeholders committed to accelerating innovations through knowledge sharing and collaboration. With support from a number of the leading organizations that have championed SGs, this community has come together twice before (in 2011 and 2013) to collaborate, share best practices, and increase the impact of savings groups worldwide. The community convened again for SG2015: The Power of Savings Groups in Lusaka, Zambia from November 10 - 12, 2015.

Specifically, the conference sought to achieve the following objectives:

  • Exploring innovations and technology enhancements to Saving Groups’ operations.
  • Promoting Savings Groups as a catalyst of broad development that engages cooperation across a growing and increasingly diverse community of SG supporters
  • Articulating coherent strategies that both maintain program quality and facilitate increased scale.
  • Educating participants about new models and processes for linking Savings Groups to formal financial institutions.
  • Developing a research agenda to expand the evidence base for SG-related strategies.
Explore SG2015 Materials Here! 


The Global Savings Groups Conference 2013 was sponsored by Oxfam America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event brought together an array of development actors and the donor community to discuss the opportunities around SGs. The Conference took place March 4th and 5th in Washington DC. 

Topics for discussion included:

  • The place that Saving Groups occupy within the current financial landscape
  • How Savings Groups can be linked to the formal financial sector
  • How Savings Groups reach the rural poor in remote areas
  • How to scale up Savings Groups
  • How Savings Groups can be platforms for other services, products, and types of education
  • How to link Savings Groups to mobile technology

The Arusha Savings Groups Summit (ASGS) was the first global event for savings group practitioners. On October 4-6, 2011 over 250 SG practitioners from over 50 countries gathered in Arusha, Tanzania, to attend the Arusha Savings Groups Summit, an event supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The SEEP Network.

Participants had the opportunity to share their achievements, their challenges, and their hopes for the future of the SG movement.  Inspired by Stuart Rutherford’s opening speech, participants enthusiastically explored a number of pressing topics:

  • What is the intersection of technology and Savings Groups? 
  • What are the appropriate program design, bookkeeping, and replication strategies to reach poor populations?  Are Savings Groups a suitable vehicle for other development interventions?  
  • What should be the role of facilitating agencies in group promotion?  

In addition, the Summit provided an opportunity to share preliminary results of important research (qualitative, quantitative, and RCTs) measuring the social and economic impacts of the SG model. Overall, the Summit helped to build a vision for the role that Savings Groups will play in financial inclusion, social protection, and empowerment.

About the SEEP Network

The SEEP Network is a global learning network composed over 80 member organizations active in more than 160 countries. Founded in 1985, SEEP was a pioneer in the micro-credit movement and helped build the foundation of the financial inclusion efforts of today. In the last three decades, our members have continued to develop, test and expand innovative strategies that promote inclusion, develop competitive markets, and enhance livelihoods opportunities for the world’s poor.

SEEP is committed to combatting poverty through inclusive financial systems and, over the last decade, Savings Groups have emerged as a key strategy in advancing SEEP’s goals of promoting access to finance in underserved markets.



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