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Peer Learning Sessions

SG2018 hosted 22 engaging Peer Learning Sessions around the four Technical Tracks. Selected by the Technical Advisory Committee from over 75 competitive proposals, these sessions were evaluated at the highest level, demonstrating excellence in the five Session Selection Criteria: (1) Opportunity for Learning, (2) Proven Practice, (3) Collection and Use of Evidence, (4) Diversity of Perspectives, and (5) Contribution to Conference and Track Themes. 

Savings Groups as a Service: Business Models and Digital Tools for Sustainability and Engagement 
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room MH1
Chaired by Financial Sector Development (FSD) Mozambique

SOMA is a Mozambican startup that connects remote communities to market opportunities through cash-based Savings Groups. Using custom made digital tools, SOMA is able to create communication channels to rural communities through a network of extension workers using smartphones to learn from training videos, collect data, and deliver personal training to peers using local languages. SOMA’s Groups are incentivized to interact with the platform using their own mobile phones to update group details, access relevant information, and respond to surveys. Through data analytics SOMA is then able to produce insights into the needs of each Savings Group, connecting them to partner private sector institutions and development programs. In this session you can become a SOMA trainer and use the platform to recruit your own Savings Groups, test our assumptions, and contribute to improve our approach. 

Esseline Macome, FSD Mozambique | Katia Agostinho, FSD Mozambique | Tiago Borges Coelho, UX | Giannis Panagiotou, CTO


Scaling Savings Groups through Government Programs – Motivations, Achievements and Challenges 
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room MH2
Chaired by CARE

This session involved a conversation with key representatives who are working towards embedding savings group promotion in public sector programs. This open conversation considered their progress, the road ahead and the support required to succeed. The primary learning objective of this session was to demonstrate to attendees the potential power that public sector engagement can have for sustainable, scalable savings groups (SGs) promotion, the challenges facing civil servants striving to deliver high-quality programming, and the implications these efforts have for the role of facilitating agencies and other supporters. As a contribution to the 'market systems approach' theme, this session pushed attendees to consider how the role of facilitating agencies must evolve if government-led models are to achieve results. 

Hajat Tatu M. Mwaruka, TASAF | Peter MwaleMalawi's Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development | Berhanu Woldemichael, Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources | Eric RwigambaRwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning


*Stratégies d’inclusion financière : Les groupes d’épargne et le rôle des promoteurs
Le 23 mai | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | Room MH2
Présidé par Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Qu’arrive-t-il lorsque les groupes d'épargne entrent dans la discussion nationale sur l'inclusion financière? Comment les praticiens peuvent-ils le mieux participer et faire entendre leur voix? Peuvent-ils assurer des normes de qualité tout en évitant une réglementation défavorable? Venez apprendre de l'expérience de Madagascar, où les promoteurs de groupes d'épargne se sont réunis et ont formalisé une association afin de dialoguer avec les prestataires de services financiers, les responsables politiques et les régulateurs - des discussions qui se poursuivent à ce jour. Cette session accueillera des représentants de l'association des promoteurs des GE et de l'unité Finance Inclusive du Ministère des Finances, qui reviendront sur le parcours qu’ils ont suivi pour définir une place appropriée pour les groupes d'épargne dans le cadre de l'inclusion financière malgache.

What happens when Savings Groups (SG) enter the national financial inclusion discussion? How best can practitioners have a voice? Can they ensure quality standards while avoiding adverse regulation? Come learn from the experience of Madagascar, where Savings Groups promoters came together and formalized an association to engage with financial service providers, policy-makers and regulators – discussions that continue to this day. This session featured representatives from the SG promoters’ association and the Ministry of Finance’s Financial Inclusion unit, as they reflect on their journey to define an appropriate place for Savings Groups in the Malagasy financial inclusion framework.

*Cette session sera présentée en français et traduite en anglais. This session was in French and translated into English.

Christiane Tang TatianaCRS | Lina Rahrisoavelohanta, AIM Tiana Harivololona Ramanarivosoa ép. RamparanyNational Coordination of Inclusive Finance | Tom ShawCRS


Post-Project? No-Project? Four Approaches to Savings Group Sustainability and Growth 
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room MH3
Chaired by G. Athmer Consultancy

Savings Group projects have limited durations. Once they close, what remains behind? Do the established groups survive and thrive? Are additional groups formed? Do groups remain static, or diversify? This session will present three types of structure that are established during the project phase to ensure post-project service and sustainability: Plan’s Intermediating Associations (IMAs), CRS’s Private Service Provider Networks and Ophavela’s registered Agent Associations. FSD Zambia takes things one step further and eliminates project structures altogether, in favor of direct engagement with a cadre of master trainers. This session contrasts these approaches and leave ample space for audience contributions and discussion.

Aníbal de Oliveira CarlosOphavela | Marc Bavois, CRS | Chipili Lumpa MwabaFSD Zambia | Stella TungarazaIndependent Consultant 

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Lessons from Self Help Group-Bank Linkage: A Platform for Formal Financial Access in India
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room AD12
Chaired by Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR LEAD)

The Indian SHG-Bank Linkage Program (SBLP) sought to utilize rural savings groups as a channel to provide unbanked women with access to the formal finance. Over 25 years, the SBLP has become the most widespread platform helping rural Indian women in over 2.3 million SHGs to build social/financial capital through one of the largest women’s empowerment program in the world. Sector experts and practitioners presented findings from one of the first RCT impact evaluations of the program and reflect on the evolution of the SHG model over the years, the challenges it faces, and lessons learned for the African context. 

Tara Nair, Gujarat Institute of Development Research| Agnes Svensson, Hand in Hand International | Suraj Jacob, IFMR LEAD Sayan Kundu, IFMR LEAD | A. UmaraniDhan Foundation


Bringing the Informal Into the Formal: A Step by Step Guide
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room MH3
Chaired by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

This session presented a new manual, to be released at SG2018 by UNCDF MicroLead, on how financial service providers (FSPs) can best provide their services to meet the needs of informal SGs. The manual is a step-by-step guide on how FSPs can serve SGs by availing easy-to-use materials/tools and practical guidelines. These materials include institutional readiness assessment for serving SGs, discussion of the various "linkage" methodologies, as well as cost/benefit analysis tools to help FSPs determine a business case. Lastly, three FSP partners of MicroLead presented on their work servicing SGs.

Hermann Messan, UNCDF Cyrille Ouedraogo, SOFIPE | Valere Houssou, ALIDE Esnat Nchembe, NBS


Formal Finance and Informal Groups: Inside the Black Box 
May 22 | 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm | Room AD12
Chaired by Savings at the Frontier, Oxford Policy Management (OPM)

A successful business case for linkages must offer something useful to all involved parties. Part of the solution is offered by platform providers, through a multi-layered approach that is commercially robust but also creates value for groups, members, financial service providers and the platform itself. To implement such a solution often requires a significant shift in the corporate culture of the providers alongside significant changes in products, delivery processes, pricing, technology etc. In this session, speakers from Savings at the Frontier and their partners led a discussion on the lessons being learnt in building multi-layered linkages. 

Robert Stone, OPM | Sabasaba K. Moshingi, TPB Bank PLC Ama Akuamoah, Consultant to DSS Platform Ltd, Ghana Gloria Cheche, ARE Tanzania 


Making Small-Scale Savings Work with Linkage Banking 
May 23 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | Room AD12
Chaired by World Savings and Retail Banking Banks Institute (WSBI)

WSBI’s Making Small Scale Savings Work (MTripleSW) 2016 program launch continued a journey that started in 2009 by the now-completed Doubling Savings Accounts program. Like its predecessor, MTripleSW supports financial service provider efforts to give meaningful savings services to those underserved and unbanked. The business case for small scale savings requires high numbers of active savers and linkage banking turned out to be a meaningful route for tapping into the mass market. This session explored the business model and first signs of a business case for linkage banking from the lens of financial service providers (FSPs) and customers. Supported by a digital financial services (DFS) representative, panelists  discussed what technology partners can bring to the table. 

Geraldine O'KeeffeSoftware Group | Esther Mututta, PostBank Uganda | Julie Makio Mwakidedi, Postbank Kenya | Weselina AngelowWSBI

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Emerging Best Practice in the Design and Delivery of Digitally-enabled Financial Services for Savings Groups 
May 22 | 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm | Room AD10
Chaired by Mercy Corps AgriFin Accelerate

Digital technology is well underway in changing how underserved populations access formal financial services. More recently, new technology-enabled innovations, including the bundling of Digital Financial Services and Digital Information Services, have begun to enable greater formal financial access and meaningful usage among Savings Groups. This panel included a cross-section of innovators to understand how they harnessed digital to deepen their understanding of client needs, extend the reach of DFS, reduce the cost of customer acquisition, and motivate more meaningful usage of formal financial services among Savings Groups. 

Elizabeth Mwamfwagasi, CRDB Microfinance Services Tanzania | Christian Pennotti, CARE International | Craig Heintzman, Arifu | Lucy KiokoAgriFin Accelerate at Mercy Corps


Speeding Up Useful Linkages: Reducing Time in Meeting Group Demand for Formal Services
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room AD10
Chaired by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) 

How can savings groups be sustainably and safely linked to formal financial service providers in a way that reaches scale? And how can this be done, given the fast-paced “grow or die” world of formal financial service providers (FSPs)? NMB Tanzania and CARE International offer applicable advice of what works – and what doesn’t. Given CARE’s wide reach across Africa as a sought-out partner of FSPs, and NMB’s laudable success in reaching over 12,000 groups with savings of more than TZS 8 billion in 1.5 years, these two members of SEEP’s Peer Learning Group will offer tangible advice and concrete criteria on building mechanisms for healthy and successful linkages. 

Michael Maggebo, NMB Tanzania | Clement Bisai, CARE Malawi | Gerald Nyakwawa, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe | Jessica Massie, UNCDF

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*Construyendo oportunidades de liderazgo e ingresos para adolescentes y jóvenes
May 22 | 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm | Room MH2
Presidido por Catholic Relief Services (CRS) 

Únase a nosotros para aprender sobre tres intervenciones que están empoderando a los jóvenes a través de los grupos de ahorro. Estas intervenciones mejoran las oportunidades de liderazgo, desarrollan la autoestima y mejoraran las habilidades financieras y empresariales de los jóvenes. Dos de las intervenciones tienen la característica común de ser implementadas en escuelas primarias y secundarias en el Perú y El Salvador, asegurando así alcance y sostenibilidad. Al trabajar no solo con los estudiantes, sino también con los padres, maestros, personal escolar y la comunidad en general, estas intervenciones han demostrado ser exitosas al brindar educación financiera a los jóvenes y facilitar su integración en las actividades generadoras de ingresos. 

This session included three distinct savings-led interventions that are empowering youth by providing leadership opportunities, building their self-esteem, and improving their financial and entrepreneurial abilities. Two of the interventions have the common characteristic of being implemented in selected primary and secondary schools across Peru and El Salvador, thus ensuring ample reach and sustainability. The third one works with youth to integrate them into community development committees. Working not only with youth, but engaging parents, teachers, school personnel and the community at large, these interventions have proven successful in bringing financial education to youth and facilitating their integration into income generating activities.

*Esta sesión se efectuará en español y será traducida al inglés. This session was in Spanish and translated into English.

Maria Alvarado, Plan Internacional | Evenor RíosFundación Campo | Mabel Guevara, CRS | Irma Lourdes Centeno Beltrán, CRS 


Inclusive Savings Groups and Finance: Empowering Persons with Disabilities
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room AD11
Chaired by Norges Handikapforbund / Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD)

Serving persons with disabilities especially in rural settings is not priority to many development programs due to perceived risks. As a vulnerable population, persons with disabilities lack access to basic education, health, assets, livelihoods, sustainable networks, and financial services, worsening their low self-esteem and poverty that even affects their households. The iSAVE Inclusive Economic Empowerment Program in Uganda enhances members’ self-esteem, access to affordable credit, savings and promotes inclusion. The session presented the dynamics of inclusion, lessons learned and life changes experienced by persons with disabilities; e.g. increased income, optimism, happiness, wealth, self-esteem, wellbeing and access to financial services

Flavia Nakabuye BwireAssociation of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) | Oyuki YofisaNational Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) | George Mukasa MukisaNorwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) Svein Brodtkorb, Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD)


Reflecting to Improve: Looking Back on Savings Groups for Vulnerable Populations
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room AD11
Chaired by Grameen Foundation

Funders increasingly ask practitioners to tailor Savings Groups (SGs) to serve specific vulnerable populations such as caregivers of vulnerable children, young women, people living with HIV, or the food insecure. These demands often lead to the formation of relatively homogenous groups, rather than to more heterogeneous groups that typically emerge through member self-selection. Savings Groups for the vulnerable often face challenges to mobilize savings and diversify lending to manage risk, and may require extended support. Looking back on such SG-building efforts in the past several years, what have we learned that can help us to foster sustainable SGs for vulnerable populations?

Sybil Chidiac, Grameen Foundation | Mequanint Yalew, Plan International on a project and FHI360 | Jessie Tientcheu, Grameen Foundation | Essie Digo, Plan International

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How Low Can We Go? Evidence-based Approaches for Savings Groups
May 22 | 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm | Room MH3
Chaired by Itad

Which approaches to including lower income populations and marginalized segments in savings groups work best? What evidence demonstrates this and which tools are most effective in providing that evidence? This session showcased best practices in both deepening and documenting the outreach of Savings Groups, drawing on the latest findings from a cutting-edge mix of big data tools and qualitative methods – Financial Diaries, Progress out of Poverty Index, and Realist Evaluations – focused on deepening the poverty outreach of Savings Groups in different geographies – Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa.

Diana Dezso, ITAD | Amy Davis, CRS | Marcienne Umubyeyi, L-ift Silvia Storchi, Save Act


Using Savings Groups to Promote Resiliency During Times of Crisis
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room AD10
Chaired by ACDI/VOCA

This session explored the use of Savings Groups among vulnerable populations, particularly during crisis situations. It demonstrated how a cash transfer program run by ACDI/VOCA for Ebola-affected households provided important cash infusions to existing Savings Groups, thereby creating favorable conditions for the survival of micro enterprises. It  also looked at Youth Savings Groups for Congolese boys and girls in refugee camps in Rwanda set up by Plan International. These helped youth build productive assets and provided training support on entrepreneurship and adolescent life skills delivered in safe-space environments.

Lydia Mbevi, ACDI/VOCA | Holly Christofferson, Plan International USA 


Leveraging Savings Groups to Increase the Impact of Cash Transfers 
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room MH1
Chaired by FHI 360

Cash transfers (CTs) are increasingly popular among actors committed to improving opportunities for highly vulnerable people. CT programs are expanding beyond meeting basic needs to encompass broader development goals and seeking innovative ways for recipients to leverage CTs. This session addressed how Savings Groups (SGs) and CT programs can combine to improve the wellbeing and long-term resilience of CT recipients and strengthen the performance and sustainability of the group itself. Panelists presented current innovations that aim to effectively layer CTs with SGs, and engaged with the audience to identify gaps and jointly brainstorm approaches to closing them.

Cooper Swift, Fundacion Capital Anton Krone, SaveAct Evas Kansiime, ChildFund International | David Myhre, FHI360


Achieving SDG1: The Role of Savings Groups in Reaching the Poorest
May 23 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | Room MH3
Chaired by BRAC

This session explored the central role savings groups can play in achieving SDG1, serving as accessible delivery mechanisms for complex, large-scale ultra-poor graduation programs around the world. In particular, this session considered why savings groups provide effective platforms for multi-dimensional development interventions, why they are especially suitable for reaching vulnerable and extreme poor populations, and what key operational lessons and takeaways are available based on national social protection programs for the poorest, that leverage Savings Groups. Panelists will draw insights from their diverse experiences delivering Graduation globally, from NGO, donor, and Government perspectives.

Lauren Whitehead, BRAC | Ntsie Tlale, CRS | Jason Wolfe, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Yéréfolo Mallé, Trickle Up

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Indashyikirwa: A Gender-transformative, Economic Empowerment Program to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence
May 22 | 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm | Room AD11
Chaired by CARE

This session introduced ‘Indashyikirwa’; an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) prevention program being implemented by CARE Rwanda in conjunction with two local organizations. Indashyikirwa used CARE’s village savings and loans associations as a platform for a 5-month weekly curriculum for couples to support non-violent, equitable relationships, and for subsequent community activism. The program also established women’s spaces, which supported income generating activities, and engaged opinion leaders. The session shared quantitative and qualitative evaluation data detailed lessons learned from combining savings groups with gender transformative initiatives, including associations between socio-economic status and IPV, drawing on three points from a cohort with randomized intervention and control couples.

Dr. Kristin Dunkle, South African Medical Research Council | Dr. Erin Stern, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Annette Mukiga, Rwanda Women's Network | Sidone Uwimpuhwe, CARE


Making Savings Groups Work for Women: An Evidence Review
May 23 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Room AD12
Chaired by Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

While a lower proportion of women in all regions of the world have formal savings compared to men, a growing body of evidence suggests that informal options such as Savings Groups can help women improve resilience and wellbeing. What does the rigorous evidence base tell us about women’s savings preferences and the impact of Savings Groups on outcomes for women? How might savings groups be leveraged for gender transformative outcomes? Drawing from randomized evaluations of savings interventions and beyond, J-PAL and IPA presented findings from their affiliated researchers, which helped address some of these open questions. 

Doug Kirke-Smith, IPA | Lucia Diaz-Martin, J-PAL 


Reaching the Hard to Reach: Insights for Working with Female Sex Workers
May 23 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | Room AD10
Chaired by World Education

Commercial/transactional sex among young women is one of the drivers of HIV/AIDS worldwide and yet there is surprisingly little information on the financial lives of Female Sex Workers (FSWs). In this workshop, researchers presented findings from a Financial Diaries exercise in Cote d'Ivoire that aimed to inform the design and implementation of appropriate programming for this population. Practitioners  then learned how a program in Zimbabwe used Savings Groups and a work readiness program to build financial and employability skills among FSWs, promote alternative livelihood pathways, and create platforms of service delivery for the provision of wrap-around services.

Mbonisi Tshuma, WEI/B Sitholubuhle Zitha, CeSHHAR | Emily NameyFHI 360 


Want to Empower a Woman? Provide Her With Reproductive Health Access! 
May 23 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm | Room MH1
Chaired by Oxfam

Savings Groups have proven to be an effective platform to improve access to basic financial services. Women members have long highlighted the need to address the lack of access to quality reproductive health services and products which are essential to transforming women's and girl's social and economic roles. In Mali and Benin, Oxfam and Grameen Foundation are testing new models which include education, linkages to service providers and health financing to improve women's reproductive health. Early indications show that these pilot programs are a potential game changer —the use of the savings groups network to improve reproductive health service access.

Sybil Chidiac, Grameen Foundation | Nadege Gbaguidi, Grameen Foundation Fatoumata TraoreOxfam


*De la transaction à la transformation : Les groupes d’épargnes, l'action collective, et la participation politique des femmes en Afrique de l'Ouest
May 22 | 11:15 am - 12:45 pm | Room MH2
Présidé par CARE

Se basant sur l’expérience d’accompagnement des groupes d’épargnes en réseaux au Niger et au Mali, cette session explorera comment les groupes d'épargne de femmes en tant qu’entité collective, sont devenus un canal pour l’ amélioration de l'estime de soi, de la participation politique des femmes, des changements des normes sociales, contribuant ainsi à l’élimination des barrières à l’égalité des genres. Le panel montrera comment ces groupes ont ouvert des portes pour que les femmes soient élues aux niveaux des conseils communaux, devenant ainsi des décideurs. Il présentera des évidences, des leçons, des défis et des opportunités sur la manière dont elles ont été soutenues pour travailler collectivement afin de changer les normes sociales,  influencer les espaces politiques locaux. Enfin il examinera l’avenir d’un tel modèle en Afrique de l'Ouest.

Based on experience in Niger and Mali supporting networked Saving Groups, this session explored how women’s Savings Groups can collectively enhance women’s self-esteem, political participation, trigger policy and normative change, and ultimately contribute to remove barriers to gender equality. The panel highlighted how these groups opened doors for women to be elected in local municipal office and become decision makers. It presented evidence, lessons, challenges and opportunities of how they have been supported to work collectively to shift cultural norms and influence local policy spaces and look at what the future of the model holds in the West Africa.

 *Cette session sera présentée en français et traduite en anglais. This session was in French and translated into English.

Monique Diarra, Savings Groups Network of Ségou Mali Hadjo Djibo, Savings Groups Network Hamdalaye, Niger | Fatma Zennou, CARE International Nicki PostMercy Corps

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