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SG2018 Blogs

Are Savings Groups for Vulnerable Populations a Good Idea?

Blog by Microfinance Gateway

Sybil Chidiac of Grameen Foundation discusses what works and what doesn’t when tailoring savings groups to serve vulnerable populations. At SEEP's recent Savings Groups 2018 Conference, she spoke at a session called "Reflecting to Improve: Looking Back on Savings Groups for Vulnerable Populations." The Gateway caught up with her after the conference to learn more about this topic. Explore >>

SG2018: Key Learning from POWER Africa About the Power of Savings Groups

Blog by CARE International

The SEEP Network’s SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups conference has ended and now the real work begins for the sector. More than 400 policy makers, company and development sector representatives came together in Kigali in May to step up the scale and impact of Savings Groups globally. One of the key learning events at SG2018 was provided by CARE’s POWER Africa project (Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa), and here we talk to two members of the POWER Africa team about what they took away from SG2018, and how they believe Savings Groups can be taken forward to empower more women in the future. Learn More >>

A Rich Source of Ideas on Savings Groups to Empower the Poor SG2018: Key Learning from POWER Africa About the Power of Savings Groups

Blog by Beldina Opiyo-Omolo, Alice Visionary Foundation Project

This year’s Global Savings Groups Conference hosted by the venerated SEEP Network in Kigali, Rwanda, saw two WomenStrong Consortium Members in attendance: DHAN Foundation of Madurai, India, whose leaders were honored to present some of DHAN’s unique, integrated strategies for emerging from extreme poverty, and Alice Visionary Foundation Project, of Kisumu, Kenya, whose leadership came to share and to learn. Read More >>

Unexpected ‘Messengers' in Dar es Salaam - But What Exactly Is the Message?

Blog by Sukhwinder Arora, Oxford Policy Management and Paul Rippey, Savings Revolution

Insights from a study funded by the Savings at the Frontier programme (a partnership between Mastercard Foundation and Oxford Policy Management) have revealed the phenomenon of deposit collectors in Tanzania. Sukhwinder Arora and Paul Rippey explore what this could mean for formal financial inclusion. Explore >>

Want to Empower a Woman? Give Her Reproductive Health Access!

Blog by Emma Fawcett, Oxfam

Mali has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, with an average of more than 6 children per woman. Closely spaced births also contribute to maternal mortality (587 deaths per 100,000 live births) and infant mortality (68 deaths per 1,000 live births). Oxfam’s Saving for Change program reaches 500,000 women – rural and urban – across Mali, organizing women into saving groups and then using those groups as a platform to deliver other capacity-building programming, like trainings on entrepreneurship and Ebola prevention. Last summer, Oxfam and local partners began a pilot program, Saving for Change + Reproductive Health, designed to link the power of savings groups with much-needed training on family planning. Learn More >>

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Savings Groups: Evidence-based Insights on Participation in SGs

Blog by Anne Marie van Swinderen, L-IFT

In the weeks leading up to SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups in Kigali, all presenters and participants are thinking about what people already know about Savings Groups and what the rest of the world should also know about them.

Many of the SG2018 participants have a wealth of data on how “their” savings groups work, what people appreciate and what could be improved. But what is the situation in other locations that are not particularly related to one program or another? To what extent have Savings Groups reached all parts of a country? Read More >>

Women on the Move: The Role of Savings Groups in West Africa

Blog by Abigail Bondzie, CARE RMU

“Mata Masu Dubara” (MMD) translates from Hausa to English as “Women on the Move” (WoM). WoM was birthed in 1991 in the Sahel Regions of West Africa, in Niger to be precise. Its birth was inspired by the traditional tontine model widely used in Niger and incited by the critical levels of poverty that affected women in rural Niger.

Indicators such as high women’s illiteracy and maternal mortality rates combined with religious and social norms, which conditioned the perceptions of men and women, placed the women of rural Niger in underprivileged positions and clearly demonstrated the disadvantages working against women in rural Niger. With this realization, it was evident that these women needed an intervention which would empower them and help reduce poverty rates, thus the MMD/WoM model was implemented. At SG2018 CARE’s Peer Learning Session, De la Transaction à la Transformation: Les Groupes d’Épargnes, l'Action Collective, et la Participation Politique des Femmes en Afrique de l'Ouest (this session will be translated into English), will discuss the WOM approach and its growth over time. Explore >>

What do Savings Groups Members in Tanzania Really Think About Formal Financial Institutions?

Blog by Paul Rippey, Savings Revolution and Naveed Somani, Oxford Policy Management

There are many theories as to why informal Savings Groups fail to form relationships with financial service providers (FSPs). For many people, one of the main reasons is that FSPs have a reputation of being unfriendly, expensive and hard to work with, and there are too few facilitating NGOs to help broker relationships with FSPs. However, a recent study conducted in Tanzania suggests that these concerns may be overstated, and of equal or more importance is the need to demystify and publicise the FSPs’ processes and the products available to informal groups. Learn More >>

Leveraging Data in Support of Financial Inclusion Through Saving Groups

Blog by Roselyne Uwamahoro, Access to Finance Rwanda

Savings Groups (SGs) are recognized as the first step towards formal financial inclusion in the Rwandan financial market, thanks to their support to low-income populations and financially excluded people.

According to FinScope 2016, approximately 89% of the adult population in Rwanda is financially included. That includes a combination of formal and informal financial services and products. This percentage translates into 5.2 million people. While 4.2 million (72%) individuals use both formal and informal financial services or products, about 1.2 million (21%) Rwandans solely rely on the informal financial segment. Read More >>

Savings in Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Insights from the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab

Blog by Diana Dezso, Itad

In this blog, we share high level insights from a recent review of program data, research and publications across these five programs. We share these insights in anticipation of SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups, where all the Savings Learning Lab partners will be leading Peer Learning Sessions and events exploring some of our key lessons in more detail. These sessions include >>

Speeding Up Useful Linkages to Meet Savings Groups Demand for Formal Services

Blog by Jessica Massie, UNCDF

How can savings groups be provided with safe, affordable and convenient formal financial services? How can formal financial service providers develop products for savings groups in a way that is profitable and reaches scale? In the fast-paced “grow or die” world of formal finance, these are some of the big questions ahead of us.

The SEEP Network’s upcoming conference, to be held from May 22-24 in Kigali, Rwanda, is aptly named SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups. UNCDF (United Nations Capital Development Fund) has long promoted savings groups. These groups are indeed a powerful mechanism for helping those not yet part of the formal financial system to smooth irregular income flows, to save, and to have access to other important financial services such as credit and a social fund. As the organizing chair of a Peer Learning Session on Speeding Up Useful Linkages, UNCDF will lead a discussion on how a bank, NGO, and MNO (Mobile Network Operator) in different parts of Africa are tackling the questions surrounding offering services that benefit both client and provider. Learn More >>

Formal Finance and Informal Groups: Inside the Black Box

Blog by Robert Stone and Stephen Peachey, Oxford Policy Management

A successful business case for linkages must offer something useful to all involved parties. This means looking ‘inside the black box’ of different mindsets: the bank or microfinance institution (MFI) interested in mobilizing money; the fintech or platform provider interested in moving money; and last but not least, the informal groups and the people using them that need their savings to work for them, but also be kept safe. It also involves figuring out how to build long-term relationships between the different actors involved, considering the complexities of their diverse mindsets. At the forthcoming SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups Conference in Kigali this May, speakers from the Savings at the Frontier (SatF) program and its partners will lead a discussion on the lessons being learned in building multi-layered linkages. Explore >>

Of Sex Work and Savings

Blog by Emily Namey, FHI 360

Long before I was introduced to the world of Savings Groups, I worked on the socio-behavioral side of HIV prevention research for several years in the early 2000s. During that time, I read hundreds of transcripts from interviews our field teams had conducted with female sex workers (FSWs) in various countries for different studies. Given the sexual transmission of HIV, these interviews invariably included many questions on the sexual risk behaviors of FSWs. We were interested in condom use - how often women used them and with whom. But during those years of the Bush administration and the Abstinence, Be Faithful, Condoms (ABC) campaign, when we asked about condoms, we also had to ask sex workers about being faithful and abstinence! This seemed disrespectful and completely ignored the context of these women’s lives. But it wasn’t just the questions about abstinence that bothered me.

In reading the interviews of these women, what nagged at me was that while we were busy drilling away at condom use and sexual behavior, we were missing out on the hows and whys of these women’s decisions to enter sex work. Read More >>

Ebola Strikes, And You Expect Me to Save Cash?

Blog by Lydia Mbevi, ACDI/VOCA

In times of crisis, it can be hard to think about the future, much less make plans for saving money. How could anyone go to a savings group meeting when their village was under quarantine? How could anyone earn money without being able to leave their county or village to trade?

As the regional gender and youth advisor for ACDI/VOCA in Africa, I will be leading a Peer Learning Session at the SEEP Network’s SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups in Kigali, Rwanda, focused on ADCI/VOCA’s experience reviving savings groups devastated by the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Through our Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development, ACDI/VOCA created a cash transfer program in Sierra Leone that targeted Ebola-affected households and provided cash infusions for existing savings groups. Learn More about the Peer Learning Session >>

How CARE Aims to Uplift 800,000 Women in Rwanda: SG2018 Peer Exchange to Visit Savings Groups Members

Blog by CARE

Over the past 34 years, CARE International Rwanda has lifted up women and girls in rural areas, helping them overcome poverty and live dignified lives. CARE focuses on women and girls because they are disproportionally affected by poverty even though women have been identified as possible catalysts for change.

CARE believes that empowering women economically can promote gender equality and individual opportunity. Through CARE’s flagship Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) methodology, the organization has used this simple, low-cost approach to provide hundreds of thousands of Rwandan women with the opportunity to harness their potential and transform the lives of their families. Explore this Peer Exchange >>

Indashyikirwa: The Impact of a Microfinance and Gender-transformative Program on Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

Blog by Erin Stern, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Indashyikirwa, meaning ‘agents for change’, is a program that seeks to prevent intimate partner violence (IPV) across Rwanda, and is being implemented by CARE Rwanda, Rwanda Women’s Network (RWN) and Rwanda Men’s Resource Center (RWAMREC). One component of the program was a 5-month weekly curriculum with 840 heterosexual couples recruited from CARE’s micro-finance village savings and loans associations. The participatory curriculum supported couples to examine power in their own lives, identify and manage triggers of IPV, and build skills for healthy, equal relationships. Using the VSLAs as a platform responded to CARE Rwanda’s (2012) assessment of this programming, which found that in many cases, men were controlling the function of the microfinance groups and money, and many women did not feel confident to make decisions about a loan without their husband’s approval. Approximately 25% of couples that completed the Indashyikirwa curriculum were supported to facilitate activism in their communities around the benefits of non-violent relationships for an additional two years. What you can expect at SG2018 >>

A Faith-based Approach to Savings Groups: World Relief Rwanda’s Peer Exchange at SG2018

Blog by Emily Mugisha, World Relief Rwanda

The results of Savings for Life (SFL) are indisputable. Members share countless stories of changes in their lives, not just financially but also spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically. World Relief Rwanda is in a unique position to host a Peer Exchange visit for participants at SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups as it was one of the first countries for World Relief to start using the SFL curriculum in 2014 as well as form SFL Committees in 2015. Join the field visit to engage more with group members and SFL Committees to hear more about their stories and the incredible work they are doing. Learn More >>




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