Convened by:

Innovation Stations 

SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups hosted five engaging Innovation Stations, designed to highlight new and experimental strategies to achieve sustainable impact through Savings Groups and other forms of community-based microfinance. 

Can Savings Groups Help Develop a More Productive Agriculture?

Chaired by World Vision Rwanda | Room MH2

Many Savings Groups refuse or discourage agricultural lending because of risks associated with weather, low productivity and unstable markets. World Vision Rwanda (WVR) is overcoming this limitation by embedding SGs in agricultural cooperatives. Agricultural cooperatives ensure timely access to essential inputs, coordinate the delivery of technical assistance, facilitate contract farming arrangements and provide non-financial services like gender equality sensitization that build social cohesion. When combined with financial capital from Savings Groups and other financial institutions, this mix of products and services results in more predictable agricultural outcomes, improved food security, rural business expansion and sustainable livelihoods. This session demonstrated how this innovative approach has been applied at scale and explore the role of Savings Groups in agricultural development.

Sentozi Ananias, World Vision Rwanda | Ross Nathan, VisionFund Rwanda | Cyiza Immaculee, World Vision Rwanda

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Peer-to-Peer: The Forgotten Channel of Savings Group Formation

Chaired by Savings Revolution | Room MH3

While nearly all attention is focused on a facilitated approach to Savings Groups formation and training, evidence suggests that in some countries the peer-to-peer (P2P) channel forms substantially more groups. Significantly, the P2P channel has rarely had access to the training materials that the facilitated programs have perfected over two decades of Savings Group work. These materials are important to anyone forming a group: while members of experienced groups have deep intuitive knowledge of how groups function, they may not have the confidence, organization and concepts that are necessary to pass that knowledge on to others. This session will present an innovative approach designed to encourage and support P2P with simple online tools, publicized by social media. The approach is intended to lead to more groups being formed, and to give people the tools they need to train and guide groups that are of equal or higher quality to facilitated groups. Participants were asked to suggest how the system can be adapted and applied more widely, across many countries.

Paul Rippey, Savings Revolution | Nancy Jordan, Wealth Walkers Savings Group

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Capitalizing on Social Networks and Economies of Scale for Local Market Development

Chaired by VITAL | Room AD11

VITAL is expanding local markets for goods and services in remote areas of Colombia, through an innovative market development approach based on Savings Groups. The micro-franchise model links Savings Groups with each other – and commercial partners – to capitalizes on social networks, create economies of scale, and expand local markets. The innovative uses of technology to identify local needs, market analysis, private sector partnerships, and the coordination of local distribution channels improve the sustainability of Savings Groups and expand the income generation opportunities for their members. The session discussed the challenges and opportunities of this innovative approach and its potential for replication beyond Colombia.

Olga Lucia Ruiz Martinez, VITAL

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Chiefs and Churches

Chaired by World Relief | Room AD12

The era of big NGO programs that create and support Savings Groups seems to be ending. Now what? Maybe it's time to turn to empowering existing local structures, like church networks and traditional leaders, to create and scale SGs. These networks are often efficient and effective. They already exist, they have management and staff in place, they are not necessarily limited by project funding cycles and they are known and respected. The session showed how our programmes have empowered existing networks in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia and how we learned to work with different structures, incentives and objectives. 

Gift Mwase, World Relief Malawi | Chipili Mwaba, FSD Zambia | Courtney O'Connell, World Relief

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SG4Africa – Launching a Pan-African Consortium using Policy and Program Experimentation

Chaired by the Policy Experimentation and Evaluation Platform (PEEP) | Room MH1

SG4Africa is currently a consortium of 35 partners in 26 African countries and aims to conduct a comprehensive, systematic study on Savings Groups in their different national or regional forms on a pan-African level, relating the traditional social construct – such as Kenya’s harambee or Ghana’s susu - to modern enterprise development. SG4Africa will explore the use of project experimentation processes.

This session presented policy and program experimentation in the context of Savings Groups, encouraging real-world applications to test innovative approaches in different countries and laying the foundation for future collaborations. Practical tools were introduced and discussed as to how to apply these methodologies to answer policy and program intervention questions. Although policy experiments typically involve only a sample of the population, they have the potential for high impact as good practices can be scaled when results are proven, especially in the international context. 

Grietjie Verhoef, PEEP | Christopher Boachie, PEEP | Dana Redford, PEEP

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