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Savings Groups reach very poor and vulnerable populations more effectively than traditional microfinance programs. They require limited infrastructure; savings deposits and loan repayments are flexible; and even the most vulnerable members of the community can understand and participate in group operations.

While the very poor can and do join Savings Groups, recent evidence indicates that not as many are joining as had been assumed. New strategies are now being developed to reach the very poor, including changes in targeting, messaging, training, delivery channels, group procedures and governance, as well as combining Savings Groups with complementary activities and inputs, including conditional cash transfers and poverty graduation programs. These approaches show some promise. But for SG initiatives that target the extreme poor and other vulnerable populations (based on gender, age, socio-economic status, disability, other factors) there is a need to better understand the strategies to increase, improve and measure outreach.

Recent efforts to target the extreme poor and underserved groups – such as OVC caregivers, HIV-affected households, and youth – provide a pool of evolving experience upon which to understand and expand good practices.

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