Savings groups can work as effective vehicles of social and economic change. Through more integrated programming, also known as 'Savings groups plus’, they can be used to deliver packages of complementary services, such as financial education, child-rights awareness, healthcare and agricultural training.
Savings groups can also enhance other programmes. For instance, they can help communities sustain their infrastructure such as water points, or help build their resilience in planning for or recovering from emergencies. Their exposure to other goods, services and ideas through messaging and training helps the group members build their capacity beyond simple money-management, and helps them deal with other personal, household and community issues.
Case Study: Savings groups leading to wider change in Colombia
Increasingly, international NGOs are developing standardised, multi-component programmes that include the promotion of Savings Groups, according to their respective mission and technical expertise. However, market analyses – to assess the needs, demand and feasibility of providing additional services through savings groups – rarely occur. The main reason is that these types of analyses are complex, expensive and often beyond the financial and technical resources of smaller organisations. However, there are effective alternatives.
Plan International has been promoting savings groups in Colombia since 2008. Towards the end of the one-year training cycle that groups go through to master basic meeting procedures and financial management, a trainer offers groups an orientation in Plan’s eight course offerings in child protection (basic rights, healthy environments, violence prevention, interpersonal relations, lifeskills and financial education). Each savings group may then formally requests any of the courses. If there is sufficient demand in a given area, our specialised staff delivers the training to representatives from a cluster of groups. The success of this approach has encouraged Plan International Colombia to integrate savings groups into a growing portfolio of other community development initiatives.