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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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