With the generous support of TOPS and Save the Children, Project Concern International (PCI) organized and hosted the three-day capacity building workshop, “DON’T JUST BORROW, BE THE BANK: How Savings-Led Microfinance Can Make Food & Nutrition Security Programs More Sustainable.” The event was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was attended by about 65 participants from seven African countries, representing more than 20 organizations, local and international NGOs, donors and government agencies.
The “Be the Bank” (BtB) workshop brought together practitioners and other stakeholders from across Ethiopia and Eastern Africa to learn, share and brainstorm how Savings Group (SG) methodologies can augment, support or improve food-aid and nutrition security programs. The forum discussions aimed at promoting learning on ‘what works’ in terms of Village Savings and Loan (VSL) methods and reducing food and nutrition insecurity. The forum also provided an opportunity for participants representing local and international NGOs, public health and development organizations, to assemble and share experiences on integrating savings programs along with Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) programs.
Participants submitted applications to PCI, proposing to present their promising practices or models, moderate a panel discussion, or create and display a poster presentation. Over the course of the three days, there were a total of 10 plenary presentations, three panel discussions, four poster presentations, one live demonstration and one beneficiary testimony. During each presentation and plenary discussion, much of the time was allotted for questions, answers and reflections to allow participants to air their different views and perceptions, as well as share their field tested experiences and knowledge. Throughout the event, participants developed specific technical recommendations, identified themes and shared resources designed to support and advocate for savings approaches in new and existing FNS programs, and agreed to form a virtual group to promote ongoing collaboration around the themes and connections developed in Addis Ababa.
BtB was designed to facilitate active learning such that participants gained information, tools, promising practices, and greater capacity to apply this new knowledge and skills to their own programs, as well as the opportunity to network and establish new professional relationships in the field of savings-group programming. In order to measure how well the sessions delivered information, as well as the knowledge gained by participants, PCI developed a Pre and Post-test and short workshop evaluation. A team of documenters also captured activities of the forum through video, audio and photos. Feedback from participants indicated that they considered the workshop to be very successful, and participants were excited to learn about the relevant work in other countries and organizations. Many participants indicated that there is a need for making BtB an annual event in order to bring organizations together regularly, so that we can continue sharing experiences as organizations adapt to new models and approaches for scale up.
This report summarizes the events of the three day BtB program, and includes session proceedings, key themes and concepts, models, lessons learned and recommendations for promoting integrated economic development and FNS programming.