The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.
Savings-Led Financial Services Working Group
A Savings Group is like a tiny local credit union: members save together, lend their savings with interest, and share the profits. Today almost nine million people worldwide participate in some form of Savings Group.The popularity of these groups stems from a great need among the poor for help with managing household cash flow, particularly in remote villages or urban slums where no brick-and-mortar financial institutions exist.
Due to the tenacity and rapid growth of Savings Groups, donors and practitioners increasingly require a practical understanding of Savings Groups' operations and their potential for serving the "unbanked" poor. The Savings-Led Financial Services Working Group (SLWG) was created to this end, bringing together practitioners who work with Savings Groups to both share their knowledge and experience and disseminate learning more broadly. The working group creates publications, holds on-line discussions, and participates in and organizes conferences to further knowledge of savings group methodologies.
What are we working on?
Our learning agenda for 2015 focused on three distinct products:
- Program Quality Guidelines for Savings Groups: Savings Groups (SGs) proponents point to a variety of benefits beyond savings and credit, such as improved resilience, mutual support, asset accumulation, and access to a variety of products and services offered through the groups. The Program Quality Guidelines (PQGs) begin with the conviction that facilitating agencies have a responsibility to implement quality SGs that safeguard the well-being of members and the security of their assets. They represent a sector-wide effort to build quality from the onset as a guarantee for consumer protection, rather than waiting for problems to emerge before taking steps to address them. Learn more and explore the interactive PQGs portal today!
- Linkages handbook: In partnership with CARE and the Master Card Foundation, the SLWG will undertake a consultative process to update the Savings Groups Linkages Handbook, which was originally developed by CARE to use internally. Drawing on the experiences of other SG promoters and financial services providers, the SLWG will update and produce a virtual handbook that will provide tools and guidance on how to link SGs with formal financial institutions.
- The Power of Savings Groups: This webinar series will explore innovations and enhancements to Savings Group (SG) operations, and strategies for increased efficiency and scale. The series will feature a monthly webinar showcasing practical experiences and exploring knowledge gaps as we prepare for the next convening of the Savings Groups community—the SG2015 Conference.
Joining Forces with the RED GALAC
The SLWG has joined forces with the RED GALAC (Grupos de Ahorro Latinoamerica y el Caribe) to promote SGs in Latin America. The RED GALAC came together following the first Latin America Forum on Savings Groups in December 2013 in Bogota, Colombia with the objective to strengthen, position, and advocate for SGs in the region. The Red GALAC is comprised of over 30 organizations and coordinates closely with SEEP’s SLWG. To learn more about their mission and activities, check out the RED GALAC page.
The facilitators for the Savings-Led Financial Services Working Group are Eloisa Devietti and Candace Nelson.
For questions or further information, please contact Nisha Singh.
Congratulations to Gabrielle Athmer, Winner of the PQG "Share Your Story" Contest!
Gabrielle Athmer, an independent consultant based in the Netherlands, shared how she has promoted the PQGs through various means, including in a training, at a conference in Mozambique, and by facilitating the PQG learning activity with other practitioners. We appreciate all the work that Gabrielle has done for the PQGs and look forward to seeing her use her complimentary conference registration! To read more about Gabrielle’s story, click here>>
We also want to recognize the great work that Hope International has made in promoting the PQGs, notably in using the PQG training materials and continuing the conversation, especially with staff in the field. We look forward to see how you continue using the PQGs with your teams! To read more about Hope International’s stories, click here>>
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Savings Groups at the Frontier
The publication from the Savings-Led Working Group, Savings Groups at the Frontier, is now available: you can order your copy here! The book explores the issues that will shape the future of Savings Groups. Not surprisingly, these issues mirror the preoccupation of the pioneers of microcredit. However, this book addresses them, not from the perspective of the financial institution, but in support of group members and savers who are managing their own financial services. Learn more.