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Mastercard Foundation’s Savings Learning Lab

The Savings Learning Lab supported learning among the Foundation’s savings sector portfolio programmes and the wider sector through the generation, synthesis, curation and dissemination of knowledge on savings focused financial inclusion.


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 addressed 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 to a later focus on testing and proving scalable business models on the supply side.

The Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab is a six-year initiative that supported learning among the Foundation’s savings sector portfolio programmes: Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Africa (POWER Africa) implemented by Care, Expanding Financial Inclusion (EFI) in Africa implemented by CRS, MicroLead implemented by UNCDF, Scale2Save, implemented by WSBI and Savings at the Frontier, implemented by OPM.

In addition, we also synthesised performance monitoring data and knowledge outputs across the portfolio of projects and facilitates cross-portfolio learning dialogue.

At the sector level, we developed 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 hosted webinars, supported the SEEP led Savings Group conferences and facilitated local stakeholder events convened around particular topics of interest of challenge to the sector.

Partner resources

Check out our partner websites for the latest resources from their programmes:


Check out SLL’s resources below and keep an eye on this page for more to come.

Project Brochure

Savings Evidence Map



Proven approaches to delivering inclusive finance

Scalable and Sustainable Digital Solutions for Savings Groups(at the 2020 SEEP Annual Conference)

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)


Contact James Robinson ( if you would like to discuss this project.