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Learning together to support Savings sector portfolio programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Peer Learning Group: Commercial Relationships between Savings Groups and Financial Service Providers

Peer Learning Group: Commercial Relationships between Savings Groups and Financial Service Providers

Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of initiatives to expand access to formal financial services in underserved markets through Savings Groups (SGs).  Initiatives to link Savings Groups with FSPs have resulted in improved access to finance for SG populations as well as new markets and increased deposits for financial institutions. Several challenges still remain however, before these efforts can reach scale. Product development, delivery channels, customer engagement, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and evidence on the demand and supply of financial services for SGs remains thin.  Diverse market actors have piloted various approaches to address some of these issues, and while financial service providers have an important wealth of experience and knowledge they often lack facilitated spaces for mutual learning with other FSP practitioners during critical moments.

This Peer Learning Group focuses on addressing challenges and opportunities faced by financial service providers in working with Savings Groups. This initiative is facilitated by the SEEP Network as part of the The Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab — implemented by Itad in collaboration with the SEEP Network.

Members from SEEP's PLG are featured in an engaging webinar presenting the Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) methodology developed by 17Triggers and the PLG's use of the tool in exploring commercial relationships between Savings Groups and Financial Service Providers.

Watch the webinar recording and download the presentation!


Clement BisaiClement Bisai, Senior Technical Advisor for Monitoring & Evaluation, CARE Malawi

Clement is Phd Student in Transformative Community Development and has Msc in Leadership and Change Management from Leeds Metropolitan University. He has over 10 years’ experience working with VSLAs and has been involved in testing different innovations in VSLA Programming and measuring the value addition of such innovations. Clement has participated integration of gender, financial education and linkages with formal financial services in VSLA methodology and currently manages the CARE Malawi portfolio of over 18, 000 VSLAs. He is a member of the Malawi Government National Technical Committee on Saving Groups. 

CARE Malawi's Work With Savings Groups:

CARE Malawi was the first organization to introduce VSLA in Malawi in 1999. To date, CARE Malawi has facilitated formation of 18, 000 VSLAs, reaching 350, 000 members and training over 1, 500 Village Agents in all the three regions of Malawi. According to the 2015 VSLA National Mapping Exercise by the Malawi Government Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, CARE Malawi contributed 50% of total national outreach in VSLA. CARE Malawi has provided technical support to many organizations in Malawi to ensure significant scale up of the model.

Savings Groups have been used as an entry platform for CARE Malawi’s programmes that seeks to achieve lasting/sustainable outcomes/impact in Women Economic Empowerment, Food & Nutrition Security, Resilience to Climate Change and Right to Life free from Violence. CARE Malawi has also implemented stand-alone VSLA projects (projects that solely focus on scaling up VSLA) and projects that used VSLA implementation as a strategy of achieving different outcome areas.

For a period of three years (up to 2013), CARE Malawi successfully advocated for the inclusion of VSLA as one of the 6 thematic pillars in the Malawi Government National Social Support Policy and Programme. In 2016, in coordination with other implementing and donor partners, CARE Malawi supported the Malawi Government in the establishment of Saving Groups Best Practices Guidelines.

Since 2010, CARE Malawi has implemented a number of projects that promoted linkages between Saving Groups and formal financial service providers such as banks, mobile network operators and micro finance institutions. The linkage projects focused on diverse aspects of financial inclusion and were addressing emerging issues in saving groups such as high liquidity, security and unmet financial needs.

Esther SsenogaEsther Mututta Ssenoga, Senior Manager Linkage Banking & Special Segments, Post Bank Uganda

An accomplished Financial service Manager with over 15 years’ experience of micro finance, retail banking, Digital financial services and  Linkage banking, Esther currently supports relationship-based banking through linkages of saving groups, women and youth segments. She is proficient in using customer insights to deliver financial solutions to the unserved and underserved based in existing community based structures and passionate about pursuing the right opportunity not only to advance her career but to dedicate time, energy and commitment to the financially excluded.

Post Bank Uganda's Work With Savings Groups:

PBU is a savings Bank for the mass market Bank. Through Linkage banking, PBU focuses on providing accessible convenient, affordable and sustainable financial solutions to the underserved and unserved using a multiple channel approach. The bank extends a wide range of products and services to the saving groups and a has a specialized resource at each of the service points that is dedicated to linking saving groups. This is complemented by financial training to improve financial capabilities of the groups and its members. Post Bank Uganda is currently reaching out to over 20,000 groups through its 40 branch network and 120 mobile van service points. The bank has a mobile banking solution for the groups used on both simple and smart phones.

Gerald Nyakwawa

Gerald Nyakwawa, Account Executive, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe

Gerald M Nyakwawa is a Business Development strategist who partners with sole traders and MSMEs to grow their businesses. After spending nearly a decade working in retail and Corporate Banking, Gerald understands Bottom of the pyramid banking.  A development finance enthusiast who is passionate about inclusive economic development and hates exclusive growth, Gerald knows what truly drives conversions at the bottom of the pyramid. He believes Financial Inclusion is not about profit, but about social and economic development -  profit is only a bonus to a sustainable financial inclusion model.

Gerald’s financial inclusion articles have found space in local print media like The Standard and the Newsday, as well as international websites such as Mobile Money Africa, All Africa, Africa news Hub and Chartered Institute of Development Finance Journal. He also recently discovered a new passion - the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners - and will be launching a ‘donate a book’ campaign for the prisoners in Zimbabwe. 

Econet Wireless' Work With Savings Groups:

Informal group savings and investment clubs, locally known as ‘mukando’ or ‘maround’, are common throughout Zimbabwe. Savings Groups face security risks in handling cash and difficulties in tracking contributions and withdrawals from members. EcoCash Savings Club offers a more inclusive, secure, transparent and convenient way for people to pool funds using their mobile wallet without taking away the social aspects of the group’s physical meetings.  Anyone registered on EcoCash can participate and set up a Savings Group. A group’s appointed chairperson initiates the opening of a club account on their mobile phone and invites members to join immediately. There is a facility to select approving members and to verify the withdrawal of funds based on multiple SMS sign-offs. All members can check the group’s account activity at any time on their phones. Savings Groups earn interest on all deposits and it is free to move funds between the group wallet, individual wallet and bank account.

EcoCash Savings Club is aimed at millions of our citizens, who until now have been performing group savings informally without access to the formal banking channels because they are not recognised as financially eligible by mainstream banks. The service is targeted at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the unbanked under banked and the unhappily banked. We are willing to work with non-profit organisations to accelerate uptake and ensure robust education to bring back the savings culture in Zimbabwe.

Michael Maggebo

Michael Maggebo, Product Development Manager, National Microfinance Bank (NMB)

Michael B. Maggebo is a Product Development Professional at NMB Bank Plc in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he oversees Retail Liability Products. His areas of competency are Product Development, Product Portfolio Management, Deposit Mobilization and Pricing of Products and Services. In addition, he has also been engaging with financial inclusion programs since 2014 and has developed a variety of products targeting financially excluded individuals both youth and adults. Before joining NMB Bank, Michael worked with a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company, Tanga Fresh Co. Ltd. as an Assistant Accountant. He holds an adanced diploma in Accountancy from the Insitute of Finaance Management and is currently pursuing an MBA in Corporate Management at Mzumbe University.

National Microfinance Bank's Work With Savings Groups:

NMB has teamed up with CARE International to provide financial solution for the VSLA business model, leading towards providing groups and individuals with bank accounts. The project targets approximately 10,000 mature VSLAs group by March 2017. The overall project goal was to link mature savings groups to formal financial institutions and developing an appropriate platform for banking through mobile technology to facilitate linkage and transactions.

The financial inclusion program in NMB Plc aims to bank the unbanked population in informal groups, this is to say VSLAs, CBSGs, SILC, VICOBA, UPATU and groups of similar both groups and individual members. Previously, NMB had no group savings product to meet the market segment needs. That being the case a new tailor made group savings product (NMB Pamoja Account) was developed and incorporate the individual account (NMB CHapchap Account) to properly serve the market. The group credit product is currently under development with expectation to be up and running by Dec 2017. With the current performance trend, NMB projected to link and serve at least 30,000 informal groups by the year 2020.

Naveed SomaniNaveed Somani, Monitoring, Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager, Oxford Policy Management

Naveed is the Monitoring, Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager on the Savings at the Frontier program – a partnership between Oxford Policy Management and Mastercard Foundation. Previously he worked on the Barclays funded Banking on Change youth savings project, and with the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance.

Oxford Policy Management's Work With Savings Groups:

The Savings at the Frontier (SATF) program will identify high potential business models – including the innovative use of technology – and deliver support, in the form of funds, technical assistance and monitoring to approximately eight selected financial service providers (FSPs) in the three countries. The FSPs will implement and test the business models to deliver financial services to individuals who currently only have access to informal ones, thereby establishing effective links between users of informal savings mechanisms (ISMs) and the formal financial system. It will scale access to financial services for at least 250,000 rural and semi-urban households. A robust monitoring, research, evaluation and learning framework will capture insights on what works and what doesn’t in different contexts. This learning will be constantly fed back into programme design to course-correct as needed to achieve the greatest possible impact. Learning in the programme will also contribute to the wider knowledge base on financial inclusion, helping to construct a set of effective, scalable approaches that open the door to meaningful financial services for excluded populations around the world.


The Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab is a six-year initiative implemented by Itad, in partnership with the SEEP Network. The Lab’s aim is to support learning among the Foundation’s savings sector portfolio programmes through increased alignment and effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation, and through the generation, synthesis, curation and dissemination of knowledge.

For more information, please contact Fabiola Diaz.

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