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Impact

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. A systematic review of the evidence concludes that Savings Groups contribute to increased savings, access to credit, asset accumulation, business investment, consumption, food security, social capital and resilience.

In the mid-2000s, practitioners began documenting the impact of Savings Groups, with findings from 15 studies summarized in Savings Groups at the Frontier. These early studies examined the member- and household-level impact of participation in a Savings Group. Since then, SG programming has evolved considerably. Savings Groups are increasingly promoted in combination with other interventions in health, education, market development, gender equality, and access to formal financial services. Innovations in program design have targeted more diverse and vulnerable populations. And the number and diversity of entities that promote or engage with Savings Groups has broadened significantly to include new development organizations, donors, financial service providers, local and national governments, and mobile network operators. Assessing and understanding the impact of Savings Groups has thus become more complex.

Despite the growing and increasingly robust body of evidence, gaps remain on the impact of: commercial relationships between Savings Groups and financial service providers; caregiver participation in Savings Groups and the transfer of benefits to child dependents; participation in Savings Groups by more vulnerable populations; and the contribution of Savings Groups to gender equality. The body of evidence would also benefit from more independent research, greater geographic diversity, and more long-term studies.

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