A growing and increasingly robust body of evidence suggests that participation in Savings Groups contributes to increased savings, access to credit, asset accumulation, business investment, consumption, food security, social capital and resilience.
Over the last 25 years, development organizations have mobilized and trained approximately 700,000 Savings Groups consisting of at least 14 million members in 75 countries. There is clear evidence of benefits to members, households and targeted communities.
As Savings Groups mature, they are confronted with an expanding set of risks related to money management and the safety of group funds, internal procedures and governance, and evolving relationships with external service providers.
Over two billion adults worldwide do not have access to a bank account. Savings Groups represent a promising pathway for financial inclusion in new and underserved markets. Savings Groups offer an entry point to isolated communities.
The introduction and adoption of technology is transforming the landscape for Savings Groups and the agencies that engage with them. These tools include Technology to train SGs, SG trainers, for SG operations and to support the relationship between SGs and external service providers.
Savings Groups reach very poor and vulnerable populations more effectively than traditional microfinance programs. They require limited infrastructure; savings deposits and loan repayments are flexible; and even the most vulnerable members of the community can understand and participate in group operations.
In fragile and conflict-affected states, Savings Groups may represent a viable approach to social protection and improved access to basic financial services.