Beyond Financial Services: A Synthesis of Studies on the Integration of Savings Groups and Other Developmental Activities
This document summarizes the findings of a Learning Initiative carried out by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) with support from The MasterCard Foundation, to study the integration of Savings Groups (SGs) and other developmental activities. The Other Activities (OAs) include: training provided to group members (separate from training for financial activities); products or services offered; cash or in-kind; linkages between the SG and service providers including financial institutions; creation of federations or networks of SGs;or any other product or activity in addition to the core financial activities of the SG (internal saving, borrowing, and insurance). In most of the cases studied, the OA was added to the SG after it began financial activities, but in other cases the order is reversed, and training in the core financial activities is offered to a group that is already engaged in an OA.
The Learning Initiative examined how SGs are leveraged for other development activities, how linkages to other services take place, and the associated costs, benefits and risks to group members. This paper summarizes the findings and conclusions of the Learning Initiative regarding the sustainability of SGs and of the OAs, as well as the residual value or benefits of the OA that may persist after the intervention ends.It explores the internal and contextual factors that influence sustainability, replicability and outcomes. Finally, it concludes with some preliminary thoughts about good practice and some areas where further research would be useful. It is hoped that the findings of the Learning Initiative will assist facilitating and funding agencies in considering how SGs can be effectively leveraged to contribute to the achievement of their development goals.