Savings Groups are Powerful in Emergencies

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Sept. 18, 2022, 12:54 p.m.

Ayman Ramsis

Dear MiCers,

Great to be part of this all-stars group and to enjoy and contribute to the
wealth of knowledge and experience, and above all the excellent attitude of
sharing and learning.

Please find attached two experiences that i have led over the past years in
Iraq, one was with Oxfam with support from UNDP (2017) and one with
Samaritan's Purse with support from WFP.

The first experience was with Oxfam adopted a different model of saving
groups, the ROSCA, or the "Jamiyya" or "Silfa" as known in Iraq, which was
successful to help participants share their savings regularly to loan each
other based on throwing lots about whose turn every month or every two
weeks, to support small businesses in a regular basis, the model is fully
documented and is an excellent reference. This model was relevant to the
mindset that we servend, among Returnees, IDPs and Refugees in-camp and
out-of Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, which also served as a social cohesion

The second experience was to develop Farmers' self-help groups, or Women
Value-Added groups, in returnees' communities in Hamdaniya, where
Samaritan's Purse invested in these groups to organize themselves, receive
an in-kind machine to operate together, and receive cash for training
incentives from WFP, while learn about the ROSCA model for their at-choice
use. Some farmers' self-help groups, and all women value added groups
adopted ROSCA, and they used some of their cash for training income, and
some savings' collection from their households, to do a self-funded group
business in food processing, to sell in their local market and continue
their group business from their profit margin.

I attach to this email both experiences in terms of the documentation from
Oxfam, and the SoPs from Samaritan's Purse.

Wishing you all the best of success.

Ayman Ramsis
+201006712846 (WhatsApp)
+9647510539220 (Viber)

Sept. 18, 2022, 5:44 a.m.

[Hidden email]

Hi Sarah and MiC community,

Thank you for sharing these great resources.

In the process of putting these together, were there many conversations
about how humanitarian agencies might determine when *they *are best
positioned to provide savings group technical support, and how to ensure
they are not displacing local efforts?

Concretely, I'm thinking about the case of Yemen, where both the MFI
association and NGOs are providing VSLA support.

Is there already concrete guidance on this topic? It seems like assessing
the landscape for existing savings group TA providers might be a good basic
best practice to rally around (and perhaps it already is?) But would love
to hear more about how agencies are approaching this step in the process,
given the limitations short humanitarian program cycles pose on delivering
quality accompaniment to the groups.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sara Murray
Independent Consultant with Mercy Corps & CGAP
[Hidden email]

Sept. 18, 2022, 5:42 a.m.

Ghamdan Al-Soufi

Hi Sarah and Everyone,

The team is but one of the variables in the implementation of any project.
I faced similar situation before working on VSLA and all changed when the
team can see proper plans and very feasible objectives for themselves as
implementers and tangible impact for community.

I had the opportunity of leading successful VSLA project in Yemen
previously with IRC 2019. I would like to share some suggestions based on
my humble experience in the subject. Hoping to be of help, as I see those
follow as the main factors supporting successful VSLA in Yemen:

*1- Context, context, context. (I can't emphasize enough on the importance
of contextualized approach regarding general plan and/or location,
situation need. It should be flexible implementation based on each
group/association location, preferences, etc.)*

*2- Strong advocacy and community/clients engagement. Accepting and
adapting the idea by community is must critical.*

*3- Team should have various business skills and preferably small business
background as owners or consulting experience. In addition to, very well
trained team in business and other complementary subjects related to VSLA.
One of which is financial analysis of cash flow in each group to provide
timely advice to group's management of potential financial risk or
corrections needed.*

*4- Although VSLA is for the vulnerable clients, it would be very helpful
to encourage small number of financially capable people of the communities
to participate in VSLA to support provide supportive role in groups'
periodic cash flow. This point mostly depends on context and should be
carefully considered.*

* 5- Team should keep close monitoring on VSLA activities without making
the groups depend or hindering self-sufficiency.*

There are many issues that need attention from team and careful handling.
However, community feeling of project ownership and cooperation is most
important in my opinion.

I would be happy to provide you with more information as I possibly can.
Feeling free to reach out anytime.

Best Regards,

Ghamdan M. Al-Soufi

Sept. 16, 2022, 3:11 p.m.

Sarah J Ward

Hey Sara!

Yes indeed…. this is something we talked about A LOT. In fact one of the challenges that often caused SG in emergencies to fail/struggle was when humanitarian teams were not yet believers in the SG model - when they had not seen it work, it always sounded too good to be true. And when they were new to the model that did not have the depth or experience with it is really know how and what to adapt and what needed to be left alone…and working with those who already do it well solves that problem.

In fact, one of the earlier resources I worked on – before this one – had this as the FIRST STEP.

I would encourage everyone who is interested to read and use this resource for just what Sara is talking about:

These resources I shared in the earlier post are more for those who are already ‘on the bus’ with savings groups 😊.

There was a lot of talk about this …and that’s one of the reasons we have in the slides for ‘Timeline and Set-Up’ to make sure there are links to those implementing these programs. In fact, in using established training and support curriculum for SGs - which is rule number one in – that is one of very first steps that you would see!

However, the groups also found hat in many emergencies - and especially with refugee and mobile groups like IDPs – there were not strong networks or SG training experts who could/would be able to work with these populations AND when humanitarian funding (and was then used to support SG work) came - it came via ‘response’ agencies.

That said a lot of the implementors DO have partnerships with MFI that have some SG training ans support capacity – so that was and is a really important first step.

What is your experience guys? Do you have good partners can work with SGs?

Looking forward to hearing more…


Sarah J Ward (she/her)

Livelihoods and Economic Recovery in Crisis

<mailto:[Hidden email]> [Hidden email]

Skype: sarahjward

+1 518 929 6975

LinkedIn: <https: in="" sarah-ward-5280196="""">

Sept. 16, 2022, 7:25 a.m.

[Hidden email]

Dear Sarah and Team,
Thank you so much for the great work you have done to put together these resourceful materials on SGs.
Thanks for sharing.

Kind Regards,
Ekalale Patrick Ekom
Project Officer-Financial Inclusion and organisational Development
DanChurchAid Kenya
P.O. Box 1878-00606, Nairobi - Kenya
Tel: +254 742012194/0105010496
Skype: ekom.ekalale
Website: <http: kenya="" where-we-work="""">

DCA welcomes complaints! Write to [Hidden email] <mailto:[Hidden email]> or call toll free line: 0800 72 00 52

Sept. 14, 2022, 5:53 p.m.

Sarah J Ward

Hi MiC'ers,

I have not written in a while - but I am so excited to share with you all
these resources on Savings Groups in Emergencies - that I had the honor of
contributing to - in collaboration with an amazing group of professionals
from across so many key agencies.

As you know, I bang the drum for savings-led/participant-led financial
inclusion all the time, and I work with refugees, crisis and emergencies
too. I have been thinking about and working on the links between the two for
over 20 years.

These new resources build on that thinking and learning, and I hope will
help keep the momentum of savings groups (VSLAs, SLICs, SGs, Self-Help
Groups, whatever you call them) becoming valued and supported partners in
humanitarian response, recovery, resilience, and self-reliance for those
affected by crisis and conflict.

We did not have a lot of practical resources to support practitioners to do
savings group work in emergencies - and now we do!

* Watch the Video!
<https: feed="" update="" urn%3ali%3augcpost%3a69758500697658736<br="""">65/?midToken=AQGOT_-lZwZZ-Q&midSig=1BcdPEPMFPZWo1&trk=eml-email_notification
* Use the Slide Deck and resources to train your staff, leadership,
<https: 1gdcka0cte_ykavm9914kigfbdfxoiy0x="" d="""" ed<br="" presentation="">it?usp=sharing&ouid=113984672162576972000&rtpof=true&sd=true>
* Read the Flyer
<https: 09="" 2022=""<br="" uploads="" wp-content="""">NAL-A4.pdf> and the Brief
<https: 09="" 2022="" sgs-in-emergencies_learning<br="" uploads="" wp-content="""">-BRIEF_FINAL-MedRes.pdf>
* Reach out to me <mailto:[Hidden email]> @Sarah Ward, or any
of the brilliant colleagues you will see who worked on these tools as a
cross-agency, cross-sector project. It is the best of all of us.

And tell me, because I hope the answer is yes, are you working with savings
groups in your emergency responses? Rapid and Slow-onset? Are you working
with them when you do Cash Transfers? How's that going for you?

Be well everyone, and hope to hear from you soon,


Sarah J Ward (she/her)

Livelihoods and Economic Recovery in Crisis

<mailto:[Hidden email]> [Hidden email]

Skype: sarahjward

+1 518 929 6975