Design the program with clear outreach and quality objectives that are responsive to member interests and align all stakeholders with the desired outcomes.
Program integrity requires clear objectives that are shared by all stakeholders and that balance quality and scale through good design and rigorous implementation. The sector will benefit from agencies willing to share learning on best practices for designing systems for scale and quality, all while continuing to meet member interests.
Principle Elements & Guidance Notes
Common understanding of program objectives
Develop a strategy that includes a description of the program’s purpose, expected outcomes, target population, and exit plans and get buy-in from all stakeholders: donors, facilitating agency headquarters and field staff, partner staff, and any external service providers such as financial institutions and mobile network operators. Ensure that the program meets the needs of SG members, and that they understand and accept the benefits, risks and responsibilities of participating in the project. Aligning all stakeholders toward the same goal makes achieving intended results much more likely.
Realistic benchmarks for both quality and scale
Avoid signing agreements—whether with donors or private-sector partners—that compromise the organization’s vision or that do not provide adequate resources to form quality SGs. While suggesting standards for quality, scale or cost per member is difficult due to differences in program structures and objectives, keep in mind that the industry averages between 10 and 25 groups formed and supervised per trainer in a given year (depending on the country context, the frequency of SG meetings, distance and road conditions, and the maturity of the groups). The number of groups that trainers can support will likely be reduced for those programs that use SGs as platforms for other developmental interventions when the trainer is also responsible for the delivery of the add-on services. Additionally, projects that are testing innovations will require more time and the flexibility to adapt and adjust interventions. As a general rule, work with donors to agree on the measure and benchmarks of group quality and outreach, paying attention to the performance of other organizations in comparable areas of intervention.
National level coordination
Regularly consult other SG implementers, especially when designing new projects, to avoid geographic overlap and to promote wider outreach. When different implementers target the same communities with a similar service, it duplicates efforts, wastes precious resources, and can create market confusion. Agree on standards regarding the provision of cashboxes and other equipment, as well as payment for trainers. If an area is well covered by another project, find a new area in which to operate.