Over the last 25 years, Savings Groups have emerged as a key financial inclusion strategy in underserved markets, and development organizations have formed about 700,000 groups composed of 14 million members, across 75 countries. A growing body of evidence suggests that Savings Groups contribute to increased savings, access to credit, consumption, household and business assets, food security and nutrition, investments in education, self-confidence, and resilience.
The short-term results of Savings Groups are well-documented. However, measuring long-term outcomes is more challenging as funding cycles seldom enable investments in post-project monitoring and results measurement. As a result, most of our knowledge about Savings Groups is limited to the period during which they are trained and supervised by a development organization, typically one year; and, at the very most, the duration of projects, typically no more than three years.
In 2019, with support from the SEEP Network and FSD Africa, L-IFT revisited more than 300 randomly-selected Savings Groups established in 2010-2011 by Oxfam America in Mali, and by CARE International in Uganda. The researchers tracked each active group over three months, observing group meetings, interviewing group members, and collecting the standardized performance data collected by the surveyed projects in 2011.
This study explores the long-term financial performance, institutional performance, activities and evolution of Savings Groups nearly a decade after formation. What’s left today from the efforts to form and train Savings Groups nearly a decade ago? And for development organizations, what is the long-term return on investment in the formation of Savings Groups?