Savings are critical for poor people’s resilience, consumption smoothing, risk management and financing of important life goals such as education and starting a business. However, poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to rely predominantly on informal savings and therefore do not benefit from formal financial services and products. Access to formal savings products is growing but many barriers remain and there is a need to build the global evidence base on what works and what doesn’t in expanding access and usage of both formal and informal savings mechanisms for the poor.
The Mastercard Foundation’s savings portfolio addresses the overarching challenge of financial exclusion of low-income customers, with a focus on formal and informal savings. These approaches evolved from an earlier focus on optimizing savings groups facilitation models, to supporting savings group linkage. Currently, the focus is on testing and proving scalable business models on the supply side.
The Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab is a six-year initiative implemented by Itad, in partnership with the SEEP Network, that supports learning among the Foundation’s current savings sector portfolio programmes: Scale2Save, implemented by WSBI and Savings at the Frontier, implemented by OPM. In addition, Itad also synthesises performance monitoring data and knowledge outputs across the portfolio of projects and facilitates cross-portfolio learning dialogue.
At the sector level, Itad developed and now curates the online Savings Evidence Map. This enables practitioners, researchers and policymakers to find existing evidence, see how the evidence is clustered as well as identify existing gaps. The Learning Lab also hosts webinars, supports the SEEP led Savings Group conferences and facilitates local stakeholder events convened around particular topics of interest of challenge to the sector.
Savings Learning Lab partner organisations implement savings-focussed financial inclusion programmes across Africa.
Scale2Save is a programme implemented by WSBI aimed at supporting banks to reach scale and sustainability with low-balance accounts. It tests and applies with partner banks in Africa new business models that focus on people’s sensitivity to price and demand of bank services and products.
Savings at the Frontier is a six-and-a-half-year programme managed in partnership between OPM and Mastercard Foundation that seeks to bridge the gap between the supply of formal financial services and informal savings mechanisms (ISMs), so that ISM users have a greater choice and use of financial services that best meet their needs.
The SEEP Network provides a structured platform to capture, share and advance knowledge through its practitioner networks and events. As the learning and dissemination partner within the Savings Learning Lab, SEEP leads activities in three main areas: Global Savings Groups Conference, Peer Learning Groups and with support from the Savings Learning Lab, SEEP has established the Mango Tree, the global resource on Savings Groups.
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Check out SLL’s resources below and keep an eye on this page for more to come.
- Read Scale2Save’s recent state of industry research that shows banks value efficiency, a digital offer, and customer-centric service, but must boost all in a fiercely competitive segment. (Also available in French.)
- Check out a recent ‘how-to’ note from Savings on the Frontier on improving liquidity management for agents serving small informal groups and savers.
- Savings Evidence Map: Synthesis Report
- Savings Evidence Map: Synthesis Report Summary
- Savings Evidence Map: Online, searchable tool
- Increasing resilience through financial inclusion: Provider led-solutions from West Africa
- Expanding financial inclusion in Africa: Ex-post evaluation
- Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa: Ex-post Evaluation Brief
- Savings for youth: a review of evidence executive summary
- Savings for youth: a review of evidence
- State of Practice: Savings Groups and the Role of Government in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Savings Count: Trends in access, use and the ecosystem of savings in sub-Saharan Africa
- Savings Count: What are the key findings in the Itad Savings Count report? Interview with Diana Deszo
- Savings Groups and Social Protection Programs as a Pathway to Formal Financial Inclusion
- The Role of Government in Savings Groups: Policies, Priorities and Partnerships
- Navigating the Evidence on Savings-Focused Financial Inclusion
- Savings Groups in the Digital Age: Introducing the Savings Groups Technology Toolkit
- Understanding the Impact of Savings Groups
- Pulling Levers toward Sustainability: A Framework for Small Balance Deposit Mobilization
- Savings groups and reaching the very poor: insights from Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa
- The Outcomes of SG Bank Linkages – Emerging Evidence
- Delivering Formal Financial Services to Savings Groups and their Members
- Listening to Savings Group Members for Stronger Bank Linkages: Customer Journey Mapping
- Opportunities and Challenges for Youth Financial Inclusion in Africa.
- Financial Inclusion in Africa: Is the Informal Sector Still Relevant?
- Savings Groups and Social Protection Programs as a Pathway to Formal Financial Inclusion (PLG)
- Youth Financial Inclusion: What We’re Missing & How Can We Serve Them Better
- Lessons from an ex-post evaluation
- Checking in with the Savings Evidence Map
- Getting It Right: Learning About Savings
- Savings in Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Insights from the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab
- What do we mean by client empowerment in financial inclusion and how do we do it?
- The EFI Project Unveiled – What Have We Done and What Did We Learn?
- Stories of Bank Linkages