Savings for Change in Mali: From Women's Financial Inclusion to Public Engagement
SfC (Saving for Change) is a community Savings Group program that was designed and implemented by Oxfam America, Freedom from Hunger, and the Strømme Foundation. First introduced in Mali in 2005, SfC builds upon traditional rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), but introduces the concept of loan repayment with interest, orienting the groups toward income generation and growth. This study seeks to examine the relationship between economic growth and forms of political engagement and accountability, particularly within the context of fragile states. It also seeks to provide practical insights toward developing the emerging character of SfC. As Oxfam and its partners look to the future, there is considerable interest in building upon SfC’s well-established foundation of self-organized women to develop platforms for women’s rights and active citizenship. This research is intended to provide additional insight into how (and whether) SfC groups might meaningfully incorporate measures of political accountability. Research questions therefore address: possible influences women’s collective actions (in SfC groups and associations) have on authorities and those in power and spillover effects between SfC’s economic activities and civic or political engagement.