Poverty Outreach in Fee-for-Service Savings Groups

  • Date Posted: August 28, 2012
  • Authors: Michael Ferguson
  • Organizations/Projects: Catholic Relief Services
  • Document Types: Evidence or Research, Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: Non-Governmental Organization

This research paper shares findings from a large-scale randomized control trial conducted in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The paper describes the poverty profile of community members that participate in CRS' Savings and Internal Lending Communities and shows that CRS is reaching the very poor. Additionally, communities that paid for SILC services through Private Service Providers achieved greater resilience than those that received subsidized support through the traditional field agent approach.



About SILC Innovations

Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) is a model developed by Catholic Relief Services for user-owned, self-managed, savings and credit groups. A SILC typically comprises 15-30 self-selecting members, and offers a frequent, convenient, and safe opportunity to save. SILC helps members build useful lump sums that become available at a pre-determined time and allows them to access small loans or emergency grants for investment and consumption.

SILC Innovations is a pilot project within CRS’ broader SILC program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2008-2012, which aims to establish local entrepreneurial capacity for sustaining the spread of the savings-group model beyond the funding period. In the project design, the Field Agents (FA) responsible for forming and supporting SILC groups are recruited and paid by the project for up to one year. The FAs then undergo an examination process to become certified as Private Service Providers (PSP), who offer their SILC services to communities on a long-term, fee-for-service basis, with no further project funding. The project currently serves over 350,000 savings group members, mostly rural villagers, across the three pilot countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.