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Peer Learning Sessions

SG2020 will feature 21 engaging Peer Learning Sessions around the conference's four technical tracks. These sessions present the experience of multiple organizations addressing topical issues, challenges and solutions in the Savings Groups sector. Chosen by the Technical Advisory Committee through a competitive and selective process, these sessions were rigorously evaluated, demonstrating excellence in the six session selection criteria: an opportunity for learning; promising practice; collection and use of evidence; diversity of perspective; contribution to the conference theme; and interactive presentation and audience engagement.

Track 1: Leaving No One Behind

This SG2020 track aims to build upon prior experience, catalyzfurther experimentation, delineate gaps in knowledge for future research, present improved program and business models, and strengthen partnerships and alliances – all to ensure access to a quality Savings Group for everyone, everywhere.

Refugees Can't Join Savings Groups...or Can They? 

Chaired by Seed Effect 
Thurs. March 12 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | North & East Ilanga

Three organizations with direct experience implementing Savings Groups in various refugee contexts will present their practical experiences, challenges, innovations, and outcomes. The dynamic panel will also incorporate the Top 10 Learnings from the SEEP Peer Learning Group on Savings Groups: Expanding Access to Financial Services for Refugees. Finally, we will have a facilitated Q&A for you to dig deeper into your points of interest. 
 
At the beginning and end of the session, there will be a fun interactive exercise where you will indicate your interest in engaging the refugee context. Will your position shift after participating in the session?

Joel Cox, Seed Effect | Anna Ferracuti, United Nations Capital Development Fund | Dr. Richard Reynolds, Vision Fund International | Sarah Ward, Senior Independent Consultant


Giving Them a Nudge: Helping People Make Better Decisions

Chaired by World Relief 
Wed. March 11 |11:15 AM -12:45 PM | Suites 1&2 *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Thanks to a lot of publicity, including two Nobel Prizes in economics, practitioners realize that people are not the simple benefit-maximizing machines that economists once said. 

Instead, we often make quick decisions based on factors such as loss aversion, confirmation bias, preference for the status quo, choice and information overload, availability and proximity bias, anchoring, and social norms. There are hundreds of cognitive biases that people experience every day and that profoundly yet subtly influence every decision and action. 

An innovative way to present options to our target populations is known as nudging. Nudging contrasts with other ways to achieve outcomes, for example education, legislation or enforcement, because nudging, by definition, is non-coercive, no- or low-cost, and reversible. 

This session will clarify concepts in behavioral science, present two case studies, lead participants through practical and fun exercises, and provide tools for participants to immediately apply nudging principles in their programs. 

Gift Mwase, World Relief Malawi | Paul Rippey, Savings RevolutionCarsey Institute, FSD Africa | Alexandra Fiorillo, GRID Impact 


Financial Inclusion for the Most Marginalized: What Does It Look Like? 

Chaired by VisionFund International
Tues. March 10 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Suites 1&2 *Simultaneous English to French Translation

This session will explore barriers and adaptations required to ensure true inclusion of people living with disabilities, refugees and those in emergency and fragile contexts. Humanity & Inclusion will draw experiences from Bangladesh and speak to difficult questions around true "inclusion" vs. groups of only persons with disabilities, plus the additional socially-oriented outcomes that Savings Groups often have for persons with disabilities and caregivers beyond financial inclusion. VisionFund will share lessons from its Savings Groups pilot with refugees in Uganda to demonstrate their bankability. They will outline the financial product, advantages, and obstacles of refugee microfinance as well as the necessary adaptions of existing credit products to accommodate the needs and set up of a Savings Group. World Vision will share key learning on disability inclusion in Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Haiti.

Angela Kohama, Humanity & Inclusion | Esther Bates, World Vision Australia | Martina CrailsheimVisionFund Uganda | Schelda Jean Baptiste, World Vision US 


Bridging the Religious Divide: Sharia-compliant Savings Groups for Muslim Populations  

Chaired by Catholic Relief Services
Wed. March 11 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Suites 1&2 *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Savings Groups are a proven approach to sustainably bring self-managed saving and lending services to the unbanked in 75 countries. However, Muslims, who represent a quarter of the world’s population, are challenged by the lending policies in standard SG methodologies, and frequently self-exclude from programs, participate in contradiction with their personal values, or resort to adaptations that limit the value they receive from groups. In other instances, projects have made well-intentioned modifications that are not Sharia-compliant. Meanwhile, entire regions have missed out on the benefits of Savings Groups. How can Muslims participate in groups that offer them a full range of high-quality financial services, without violating their faith? Come learn and share in a variety of proven approaches that are making SGs work for Muslim populations across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. 

Tom Shaw, Catholic Relief Services marc bavois, Catholic Relief Services | Hugh AllenVSL Associates | Ismail Shaadin, Catholic Relief Services


Understanding Longevity oSavings Groups for HIV-Affected Populations and Beyond 

Chaired by FHI 360
Tues. March 10 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Great Ilanga * Simultanous English to French Translation

What happens when Savings Groups (SGs)"grow up"? What keeps them together over the long-term? Do long-lived groups continue to benefit children? SGs have been promoted by NGOs in Tanzania since the early 2000s, and they are now a standard economic strengthening intervention in projects designed to benefit orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV. 

Though the evidence on SGs is growing, most research is focused on groups that are no older than three years. To better understand SG longevity, FHI 360 conducted a qualitative study of Savings Groups of five to ten years of age in Tanzania. This session will share key learnings from the studycompare with other international SG experiences, and share a new guidance document based on the findings. 

Whitney Moret, FHI 360 | Peter Brian, Pact Tanzania | Marco Wamara, National Council of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NACOPHA) | Philipos Woldegiorgis, FHI 360


Savings and Other Surprises: Lessons from Across Africa 

Chaired by L-IFT 
Tues. March 10 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | North & East Ilanga

Join our savings show featuring leading expertsquizzes, fun and unexpected insights 

This session will explore the dynamics of people's financial inclusion and exclusion through four unique studiestesting the audience's understanding of how different vulnerable groups think about money and how they act on their thinking. Our dynamic panel will revisit SG members in Mali and Uganda eight years after group formation, explore how to further stimulate youth savings, and discuss the VSLA participation of refugees in Uganda – what they earn, from which activities, and how they spend. 

You’ll be surprised, entertained, tested and rewarded – with prizes to be won! 

Andrew Magunda, L-IFT Marcienne Umubyeyi, L-IFT | Weselina Angelow, World Savings Banks Institute Anne Marie van Swinderen, L-IFT | John Kamau, L-IFT


Financial Exclusion: By Choice, Design or Default?

Chaired by CGAP 
Tues. March 10 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Suites 1&2 * Simultaneous English to French Translation

Savings Groups can be seen as a form of active financial inclusion. Dormant accounts are a form of financial exclusion. Those served by SGs may choose not to use formal financial products. Everyone can join informal savings mechanisms. Agree?

Our expert panel will discuss who is currently left behind by FSPs and informal savings mechanisms, and who chooses to opt out and why. Based on various research studies conducted in 2018 –19, the session will generate insights for a review of the existing definitions and categories of financial inclusion and exclusion. It provides a more granular understanding of those who remain or re-join the financially excluded, and evidence for and insights into the decision making on upward and downward movements along the spectrum of financial inclusion. Join us in answering this question “Do we need to revisit our understanding and ways of measuring financial inclusion?”

Gerhard Coetzee, CGAP | Hanna Laufer, Savings at the Frontier, Oxford Policy Management | Bezant Chongo, SaveAct | Isabelle Carboni, insight2impact

Track 2: Springboards for Youth to Education, Employment and Entreprenuership

This track will explore how YSGs can respond to the needs of youth and promote entrepreneurship and workforce development skills that help young people secure a prosperous future as they move into wage employment and entrepreneurship.

How Can Financial Service Providers Effectively Reach the Youth Market? 

Chaired by World Savings Banks Institute 
Thurs. March 12 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Suites 1&2 *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for half of the remaining financially excluded. Banks, MFIs, VSLAs and other financial services providers (FSPs) are well-positioned to seize this market opportunity, yet first must better understand young people's behavior patterns vis-à-vis income, expenditure and savings. This session focuses on insights from Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal and draws on research and findings from the Scale2Save program – a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation that aims to better understand the viability of small-scale savings in six African countries, highlights the importance of digital tools, entrepreneurship, and young people's propensity to save as part of their journey to financial independence. Researchers, FSPs, and young clients will provide their perspectives on the findings and invite audience members to share possible solutions for better tailoring financial products and services for young people. 

Marcienne Umubyeyi, L-IFT | Lise Paaskesen, LiseConsultancy | Stephen Peachey, Total Concept Consultancy | Mery Sow Soumare, Cofina Senegal | Weselina Angelow, World Savings Banks Institute | Edwin Ocharo, Kenya Post Office Savings Bank | Adetunji Lamidi, FCMB


Exploring Evidence and Innovation for Adolescent Savings & Entrepreneurship   

Chaired by CARE
Tues. March 10 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Great Ilanga *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Education settings provide a unique opportunity for the development of financial literacy, savings practices, and entrepreneurship skills. Adolescents' engagement in Savings Groups and entrepreneurship can contribute to improved numeracy outcomes, increase the relevance of education, and boost capacity to support the costs of education, thus increasing retention and transition rates. In practice, however, implementing adolescent Savings Groups in formal and non-formal school settings is often challenging due to factors such as traditional gender norms, limited teacher capacity and government restrictions. CARE has been tracking large cohorts of students to assess the implementation of adolescent Savings Groups in education settings, with a focus on marginalized girls. 
 
Building upon emerging evidence and best practices from Mali, Rwanda, Somalia and Zimbabwe, an innovative "Solution Room" approach will be used to explore and address key challenges that practitioners encounter in the implementation of adolescent savings and entrepreneurship programs, particularly in marginalized and conflict settings. 

Ellen Chigwanda, CARE USA | Dagaba Diakite, CARE Mali | Sam Kalinda, CARE Rwanda | Morgan Dembe, African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE) | Samson Dahwa, CARE Zimbabwe


Savings Groupto Protect Children & Break the Poverty Cycle   

Chaired by World Vision 
Wed. March 11 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Great Ilanga *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Savings Groups combined with life skills training have shown promise in improving child and youth wellbeing. SGs provide opportunities for members to learn about child protection and facilitate access to information and services – welfare, health, education – all while building positive savings habits that youth carry into their adult lives. Moreover, when parents are economically empowered, they can reduce exposure of their children to sexual exploitation, child labor and forced/child marriage. 

The audience will interact with a panel of adolescents from Ghana, Mozambique and Zambia who will share their personal experiences as members of SGs and will highlight the role that SGs have played in expanding their opportunities. The audience will also engage with Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action of Mozambique on the role of the government in scaling up child-focused SGs and providing social protection to safeguard adolescents and youth from violence.

Gloria ChishimbaBuchetekelo Adolescent Savings Group (Zambia) | Ayishetu Mohammed, Onuado Adult Savings Group (Ghana) | Carmelia Matavel, Chongoene Savings Group (Mozambique) | Pascua Ferrao, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action (Mozambique) Angeline Munzara, World Vision


Savings Groups, Innovation and Youth in South Africa and Zambia

Chaired by FinMark Trust
Tues. March 10 | 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM | Suite 5

Saving Groups, although often informal, fulfill a compelling savings and insurance platform often not catered for through the formal financial sector. These groups bring individuals and/or businesses together forming networks which not only enable a platform for saving for a common goal  be it for risk mitigation or wealth building purposes – but also as a knowledge sharing avenue. 

Popularity of Savings Groups amongst youth is low. This necessitates the need to rethink these Savings Groups models and adjust them to adequately inform youth needs and thereby promote the accessibility and uses for such groups amongst the youth. 

The session brings together panelists who will showcase impactful and innovative solutions derived from Savings Groups which have enabled entrepreneurship and employment amongst youth. Beneficiaries of successful initiatives will also interact on the panel to provide perspective on how initiatives are perceived and used. 

Abel Motsomi, FinMark Trust | Phiri Roy Fredrick, FSD Zambia | Eshard Mothapo, Seshego Cycling & Savings Club | Nsika Masondo, National Stokvel Association of South Africa (NASASA)

Track 3: Gender-transformative Approaches for Women's Economic Empowerment

This track will focus on women’s empowerment in the context of Savings Groups and explore how SGs can impact women’s economic independence, confidence and self-worth, decision making power in the household, voice and leadership outside the household, control over the allocation of time, mobility, and access to health services.

How to Measure Costs and Cost-effectiveness of Women’s Groups 

Chaired by American Institutes for Research
Wed. March 11| 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Suites 3&4

With growing emphasis on women's groups in South Asia and Africa, funders are interested in understanding the costs of replicating, scaling up, and sustaining programs. However, accurate cost data are rarely available, and research on costs and cost-effectiveness of women's groups remains scarce. To address this challenge, this session will provide step-by-step guidelines for collecting cost data and estimating cost-effectiveness of women's group programs. Presenters will introduce basic and advanced versions of costing tools and discuss their applicability to different contexts. The relationship between program scale, implementation activities and cost-effectiveness will be explored. The session will include a collaborative group learning workshop to identify program activities, their cost drivers and resources, and how the guidelines can be used to capture them. The guidelines are expected to improve availability of rigorous evidence on return on investment and cost-effectiveness of women's group programs to facilitate more efficient and impactful resource allocation. 

Thomas de Hoop, American Institutes for Research | Garima Siwach, American Institutes for Research


Male Engagement: Is It Critical for Women’s Economic Empowerment? 

Chaired by Oxfam America
Wed. March 11 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Suites 3&4

Globally, Savings Groups tend to both attract and engage women and thus directly address their needs to build financial and economic autonomy. Men's influence over women's involvement in Savings Groups and women's limited capabilities is traditionally seen as an obstacle to overcome. However, the tides are turning, and women's economic empowerment (WEE) has a new interpretation – one that is only achievable if both men and women are engaged. This session will explore lessons learned to-date on effectively and safely engaging men in Savings Groups and other WEE initiatives. Presenters will draw on research methodologies designed to uncover similarities and differences in men and women's empowerment as well as experiences of engaging in typically all-female Savings Groups or building mixed-gender groups. Together, we will explore how engaging with men has shown improved empowerment of women and gender parity. 

Julio Espinoza, Oxfam America | Melch Muhame Natukunda, CARE | Abigail Fried, Promundo | Christian Loupeda, Grameen Foundation


Are Savings Group Members Empowered? Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes for Women 

Chaired by Nathan Associates 
Thurs. March 12 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Great Ilanga *Simultaneous English to French Translation

There is strong evidence that Savings Groups expand access to finances for women and contribute to asset accumulation and increase investment. Thus, Savings Groups are commonly promoted as an economic strengthening strategy within women's empowerment programming. 
 
There is, however, a need to better understand the pathways between Savings Groups and women's empowerment, and to expand monitoring and results measurement frameworks beyond short-term, economic outcomes. Social empowerment has intrinsic value, and the economic gains achieved by women in Savings Groups may be limited, or unsustainable, within inequitable gender structures. 
 
This session will: 

  • Highlight current discourse on empowerment barriers and opportunities for gender transformative financial inclusion 
  • Review evidence on the contribution of Savings Groups to various domains of women's empowerment 
  • Share practical experience of implementing and monitoring empowerment initiatives. 
  • Emphasize good practices, indicators, and tools for the effective design and measurement of women's empowerment outcomes. 

Katherine Rickard, Nathan Associates London Ltd | Thomas de Hoop, American Institutes for Research | Clemence Bideri, Women for Women International


SG-Plus: Moving Basic Savings Groups to the Next Level

Chaired by International Center for Research on Women 
Tues. March 10 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Suite 5

Women's usage and reliance on Savings Groups as a critical strategy to augment their household budgets is largely seen as a boon for women's empowerment. We know transformative changes do occur to Savings Group members. But Savings Groups alone do not guarantee empowerment – and often any empowerment effects are not sustained outside of the group setting. In fact, in some respects Savings Groups are risky, their sustainability difficult to guarantee, and the unintended consequences of participation are ill-defined and by and large un-investigated.

How do we take basic Savings Groups to the next level? Savings Groups plus offer opportunities for gender transformation, scale, and sustainability. This session will offer insights into how to move Savings Groups into this category through understanding the impact of technology on social capital, unintended consequences of WEE focused financial inclusion, and how parallel investments can help mitigate harmful social norms facing women.

Julia Arnold, International Center for Research on Women | Mabel Bejarano, Project Concern International | Grace Majara, CARE International 


Savings Groups and Women's Economic Empowerment in Post-Conflict Settings

Chaired by Chemonics International
Tues. March 10 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Suites 3&4

Do savings and loan groups have a role in post-conflict environments to help women and families recover from trauma, seek economic opportunity, and shape the peace? 

Find out how the private sector and development practitioners are building on Colombia's history of Savings Groups to do just that. Come hear from the U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia and USAID's Rural Finance Initiative about how they are working with groups victims of sexual violence, other women, and their family members in post-conflict areas to integrate them into savings and loan groups as a means of economic empowerment and rebuilding the social fabric. Learn what adaptations you can take home to work with women and their families, who have suffered sexual violence or armed conflict. 

Estefania McPhaul, Chemonics International | Winnie Kalyesubula, Feed the Future Uganda, Youth Leadership for Agriculture

Track 4: Achieving Scale and Sustainability Through Digital Savings Groups

This track will delve into the implications of digitizing Savings Groups and explore how effective technologies and automated processes can promote transparency, group efficiency and, ultimately, scale and sustainability.

Digital Savings Groups: Lessons from FinTechs, MNOs, FSPs, and NGOs 

Chaired by World Vision
Tues. March 10 | 2:15 PM - 3:45 PM | Suites 3&4

This session will explore Savings Groups' digitization challenges, surprises, possible solutions, lessons learned, and keys to success from the perspective of two FinTech companies with established digital solutionsa mobile network operator (MNO) linking groups to a mobile cashbox, and a global microfinance network with SG linkages, both digital and otherwise, across several countries in the region. 

Through a lively and thought-provoking discussion, participants will contribute, share their insights and fears on Savings Groups' digitization, and provide recommendations on how to overcome obstacles with regards to perception of risk, cost, consumer protection, privacy and social cohesion. 

Wes Wasson, DreamStart Labs | Steve Shema, Exuus | Karen Lewin, VisionFund International | Abibatu Baxter, Orange Money, Sierra Leone | Angeline Munzara, World Vision International


Digital Savings Groups: Cheaper, Faster, Better…But at What Cost? 

Chaired by Project Concern International 
Tues. March 10 | 11:15 AM 12:45 Pm | North & East Ilanga

Does the introduction of digital financial tools lead to stronger, more transparent Savings Groups that require fewer resources to train and support? Are these tools ushering in a new era of innovation and empowerment? Or are they promoting a focus on individualism at the expense of the groups' social cohesion and widening the digital divide? 
 
This session will bring together experienced practitioners, researchers and technology developers to discuss the risks and opportunities of introducing digital tools to women's Savings Groups based upon evidence from deployments around the world. We will also share early findings from a study comparing traditional Savings Groups to those that adopt digital tools. The session will also include time for small group discussions where participants will identify strategies to address some of the lessons learned and share how these learnings may shape the way they introduce digital technologies to the Savings Groups they work with

Julia Arnold, International Center for Research on Women Wes WassonDreamStart Labs Dennis MelloProject Concern International


Beyond SavingsDesigning Relevant, Responsive, Accessible Technology  

Chaired by Pact 
Tues. March 10 | 11:15 AM -12:45 PM | North & East Ilanga

There's an art to the science of developing impactful technology: how to balance user requests with technology capabilities within limited resource contexts. Building on 20 years of our WORTH Savings Group programming and prioritizing user engagement, join us to hear how Pact addressed the user needs, technology constraints, organizational and partner objectives, and everyday realities that we encountered as we developed our myWORTH Android app. In this session, Pact will share design principles and practical approaches for overcoming constraints as we developed our app for DSGs with the goal of moving beyond incremental Savings Groups to more impactful links to formal financial intuitions, relevant eLearning resources  and each other. 

Meg Bearor, Pact | Innocent Mfinanga, Pact | Mark Reilley, Pact 


Can Financial Service Providers Do Well by Serving Informal Savers?

Chaired by CGAP 
Thurs. March 12 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM | Suites 3&4

The session will explore why it has been challenging to establish commercially sustainable linkages between financial service providers (FSPs), informal groups and their members and provide emerging evidence from implementation of the SatF programme.

Participants will join panel members in discussing a) interests of the three parties – FSPs, informal groups and group members; b) what challenges FSPs face around delivering usable financial services to informal groups and savers (e.g. proximity, product design, pricing, organizational culture); c) current experiences of SatF partners in addressing these challenges; d) the evidence of emerging successes and e) if a commercial business case for FSPs can emerge and over what time? Speakers will present and refer to the key preconditions for success at the level of FSPs and the eco-system level, setbacks they experienced and how they are delivering solutions to emerging challenges.

Gerhard Coetzee, CGAP | Sabasaba K. Moshingi, Tanzania Postal Bank PLC | Robert Gatimu KibotiEquity Bank Tanzania Ltd | Sukhwinder AroraSavings at the Frontier, Oxford Policy Management 


Are We There Yet? Provider-led Approaches to Scalable and Sustainable Digital Solutions

Chaired by Itad
Wed. March 11 | 11:15 AM - 12:45 PM | Great Ilanga *Simultaneous English to French Translation

Two bankers, a researcher and a learning facilitator walk into a room. Join them for an honest conversation on their experience working with a diverse set of providers to develop digital solutions for Savings Groups. Digital technologies are seen as essential drivers for financial inclusion. When it comes to linking Savings Groups to formal finance, digital solutions are key to reaching scale and sustainability. This session will focus on supply side approaches and the intricacies of the partnerships needed to bring these products together. Speakers will share practical learnings on what has and hasn't worked so far gleaned from two multi-country programs. The Savings at the Frontier program tests commercial models to meet financial services demand from informal savers in three countries. The Scale2Save program supports partner banks in six countries reach scale and sustainability with low-balance savings accounts. 

Edwin Ocharo, Kenya Post Office Savings Bank | Marvin Chibuye, VisionFund Zambia | Hanna Laufer, Oxford Policy Management, Savings at the Frontier | Diana Dezso, Itad/Savings Learning Lab

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