Right after UNCDF signed the Linking for Change Savings Charter, which sets out international principles of fairness for Savings Groups (SGs) and formal Financial Service Provider (FSP) linkages, MicroLead hosted a web discussion to share best practices on the topic of SG linkages. “Our MicroLead partners have gathered experience over the past three years that can be of interest to those newly involved with SGs and need to understand how to best serve them”, said Ms. Pamela Eser, Global Program Advisor for MicroLead.
SGs are informal groups of predominantly women that come together on a weekly basis to save together and lend their internally generated savings to group members. The groups elect leaders, decide on what interest rate to charge members on loans, and share out each year. Facilitated by INGOs, un-facilitated or spontaneously set up by low income people, SGs allow ‘last mile’ financial service provision in rural areas. Linking SGs to formal financial service providers allow groups to securely store their savings (currently held by a group member in a lock box) as well as provide opportunities for group members to open individual accounts, access credit and other services. Some linkages are conducted using alternative delivery channels such as mobile phones or rural agents, thus avoiding the time and expense to travel to the nearest bank/MFI branch..
MicroLead supports the development of linkages between SGs and FSPs, which are backed by the provision of digital financial services and financial education. Noel da’ Cruz, Project Manager at CARE Ghana, Jean Thiboutot, Project Director at WOCCU Rwanda, and Nathan Barigye, Manager Business Growth and Development at UGAFODE Uganda, were invited to share their learning on engaging with SGs. During the panel discussion facilitated by Pamela Eser, Global MicroLead Advisor, the panel members presented their current work on linkages, including the challenges encountered when reaching this rural population as well as the product enhancements which were developed to meet SG needs. The many questions from the participants prompted the panel to give more insights on the differences between INGO-facilitated SG linkages and linkages initiated by other informal groups.
To learn more on Saving Group linkages, click on the following link to access the recording of Webinar#8. In addition, the webinar panel will also be presenting their work at a session at the upcoming SG2015: The Power of Savings Groups conference, taking place in Lusaka, Zambia from November 10-12, 2015. UNCDF is a proud sponsor of the event and looks forward to engaging with the SG community.