Do Savings Groups Work? Six Years of Evidence from the DRC
Using a unique model for community development called the Church Empowerment Zone, World Relief partners with the local church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement a high impact, sustainable economic development program called Savings for Life. An innovative longitudinal data collection tool brings data from six years of program implementation and reveals continued positive financial growth for beneficiaries, even after program staff left the area. World Relief collected 673 datasets from 196 savings groups to learn how savings groups evolve and grow over time; members average over 350% increase in savings after six years while group sizes remain at maximum membership. The data also reveal the program’s positive outcomes on future savings groups: later-joining members saved nearly three times as much in their first year as early savings groups had in their first year.