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A Faith-based Approach to Savings Groups: World Relief Rwanda’s Peer Exchange at SG2018

by on Mar 1, 2018  |  posted in Microfinance, Savings  |  0 Comments

World Relief is a faith-based international development organization. At its core, World Relief has two critical beliefs: first, World Relief believes the local church is the catalyst through which long-term change in communities should take place and, secondly, that the best, sustainable development focuses on holistic transformation (addressing social, physical, emotional and spiritual issues). Therefore, World Relief’s approach to development focuses on all aspects of a person, implementing programming that targets people’s physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. World Relief posits when a person’s harmful beliefs about themselves, others, God and the world are changed, they correspondingly change their lives for the better.

Member leads the group in a Bible Study.

Savings for Life

Savings groups are well known in the field of economic development and have taken off across the globe. World Relief saw the potential impact of savings groups and began their implementation in 2008. However, in light of World Relief’s core values, they needed to be more than a strictly financial program. World Relief took the proven success of the VSLA methodology to create their own curriculum called Savings for Life (SFL). This manual has Bible verses, explanations, and narrative stories that help illustrate the ideas of the standard 10 VSLA lessons in a way that is culturally appropriate, relatable and easy for members to remember and understand. It focuses on promoting better relationships with God, others, oneself, and creation with the goal of holistically changing members – spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Creating a manual that addressed a person’s whole development was the first step. However, World Relief needed a second component to align with the other belief of World Relief: the importance of working through the local church.

World Relief believes the local church is the ideal “implementing partner” for savings groups especially for the stainability they offer after World Relief may leave the area. In Savings for Life, staff work closely with local churches from the start of a program. Staff members consult with church leaders to help mobilize their congregations and communities to join groups. They also help identify volunteers to serve as field agents in the program as well as helping World Relief staff form a Savings for Life Committee. These committees are a group of volunteers selected by churches and trained by World Relief staff in SFL. Over a period of a few years, the committee takes over the program responsibilities from the field staff, maintaining the ongoing support from the church leaders. This creates ownership of the program among local churches in the community and ensures the program can continue after World Relief is no longer working in those communities.

A couple from SFL shows their house and livestock from participation in the program

Participate in SG2018 Peer Exchange!

The results of Savings for Life 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.

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