State of practice: Savings groups and the role of government in sub-Saharan Africa

In recent years, governments across sub-Saharan Africa have deepened their engagement with savings groups, recognising the potential of the community-based microfinance model to contribute to national development agendas. This report, based on an extensive desk review and interviews with 46 government representatives from 22 countries, identifies and describes 74 government initiatives related to policies, regulation and programming in the savings group sector, across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key findings:

  • Savings groups are most commonly integrated into public policy to promote financial inclusion.
  • A greater than expected adoption of savings groups in social protection programmes.
  • Few examples of women’s economic empowerment policies and funds that explicitly reference or promote savings groups, an unexpected finding given that women comprise about 80 per cent of savings group members worldwide.

The report also provides an overview of main findings, followed by policy considerations from policymakers, and a country directory with an overview of past, current and planned government initiatives for 20 countries.

This state of practice report was developed by CARE International and the SEEP Network, in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSDA) and Itad.

  • Co-authors: SEEP Network, FSDA, Itad
  • Published: January 2019

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