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Itad at SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups

As part of our work with the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab, Itad was a conference partner at SG2018: The Power of Savings Groups in Rwanda this May.


Convened by one of the Savings Learning Lab partners, the SEEP Network, the conference was a platform for attendees to connect, engage and learn from each other about the challenges and opportunities they face in supporting Savings Groups.

Lunch Session: New Release – State of the Savings Sector Report (Tuesday 22nd May, 1pm)

The launch of our ‘State of the Savings Sector’ report, in which we provided synthesis and analysis of trends in the demand, supply and overall ecosystem of savings for low-income individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How Low Can We Go? Evidence-based Approaches for Savings Groups (Date and time TBC)

Under the ‘Expanding outreach to more vulnerable and diverse populations’ technical track we asked ‘How low can we go?’ and explored which approaches to including lower-income populations and marginalised segments in savings groups worked best, what evidence demonstrated this and which tools were most effective in providing that evidence. With our colleagues from CRS, the 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, & Realist Evaluations – focused on deepening the poverty outreach of savings groups in different geographies – Uganda, Zambia, & South Africa.

Our partners in the Savings Learning Lab were involved in numerous sessions across the conference:

Speeding Up Useful Linkages: Reducing Time in Meeting Group Demand for Formal Services 

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 FSPs? NMB Tanzania and CARE International offered applicable advice of what works – and what doesn’t.

Bringing the Informal Into the Formal: A Step by Step Guide

This session presented a new manual, to be released at SG2018 by UNCDF MicroLead, on how 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.

Formal Finance and Informal Groups: Inside the Black Box 

A successful business case for linkages must offer something useful to all involved parties. Platform providers offer part of the solution, through a multi-layered approach that is commercially robust but also creates value for groups, members, financial service providers and the platform itself. In this session, speakers from Savings at the Frontier and its partners led a discussion on the lessons being learnt in building multi-layered linkages.

Making Small Scale Savings Work with Linkage Banking 

WSBI’s Making Small Scale Savings Work 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 FSPs and NGOs, and what technology can bring to the table.

Scaling Savings Groups through Government Programs – Motivations, Achievements and Challenges 

This session explored the progress made towards embedding savings group promotion in public sector programs, the road ahead and the support required to succeed. The session demonstrated the potential power that public sector engagement can have for sustainable, scalable 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.