Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
The Impact of Savings Groups Plus: What Evidence Do We Need?
Jennine Carmichael, FHI 360
Megan Gash, Freedom From Hunger
John Schiller, PLAN International
For many years, Savings Groups programs have incorporated a wide variety of add-ons to the standard saving and credit model. Savings Groups provide HIV/AIDS support to vulnerable populations, malaria prevention and other health interventions, financial and business education, and youth entrepreneurship assistance. While it's not difficult to find SG programs using an SG Plus methodology, it is difficult to find rigorous evidence for positive impact from these interventions.
At the SG2015 "The Power of Savings Groups" conference in Lusaka, Zambia last November, over 400 practitioners, financial service providers (FSPs), donors, and other stakeholders brainstormed on what future SG research should examine. "What We Want to Know" about Savings Groups, a limited circulation practitioner-led research agenda issued after the conference made the case that "A proof of concept of the effectiveness and impact of using SGs as a platform for other services is needed to serve as a reference point for future programming. The proof of concept would also contribute to the discussion of integration that is currently attracting attention in the wider field of international development, highlighting the best role(s) that SGs should play in multi sector programming."
So why hasn't more research been conducted on the impacts of SG Plus programs? What are the important questions we need answers to and how does the SG field bang the drum for more donor support for this kind of research?
Our November guests for the SMDP-Plan webinar will be Jennine Carmichael of FHI 360, Megan Gash of Freedom From Hunger, and co-moderator for this series, John Schiller. Jennine will review the results of the FHI 360 systematic review and some of the challenges of conducting this study. Megan Gash will share what the "What We Want to Know" agenda says about the need for more research on the impact of SG Plus and other SG implementation strategies. John Schiller will talk about the importance of a concerted effort by donors to support more and better designed research on a development methodology that clearly has a greater impact than what has been proven thus far.