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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

Saving for Change in El Salvador

Saving for Change in El Salvador

Summary

The following evaluation of the Saving for Change (SfC) pilot project in Chalatenango, El Salvador examines its implementation by Oxfam America (OA) and two partner organizations from April to November 2007. The purpose of this study is to assess progress made during the first seven months of the project and determine the validity of the SfC methodology in El Salvador. The findings and recommendations aim to provide strategic guidance for the planned project expansion.
 
The investigation methodology included individual and group interviews with participants and other stakeholders including OA and partner organization staff,
municipal and parish councils and other community members, as well as direct observation and a document review.
 
Saving for Change, a savings‐led microfinance approach that brings rural women access to credit, has demonstrated significant value in El Salvador. Group members, animators and partner organizations have quickly captured the SfC methodology and are enthusiastic about its success. Women who previously could not save a dollar at home, have been able to save between two and four dollars a month. The majority of women view their funds as a safety net for an unforeseen emergency, and two‐thirds of the groups have begun lending to their members for income‐generating activities. Community ownership is a key feature of the SfC approach and the groups that have finished their initial training period are confident that they would continue on their own, even without outside support.
 
Recommendations include clarifying division of responsibilities among OA and partner organizations, addressing barriers to borrowing, and encouraging collective economic activities among group members.
 
The potential for gender training within the groups and partner organizations was identified as a logical extension of SfC.


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