Since 2014, VisionFund has been working on ways to support community savings groups through new lending practices, allowing communities to grow their economic activities.
Savings Group Structure
The share out funds are critical for savings group members.
In the first cycle, most savings group members, along with paying for household needs, use the funds to invest in small income generating activities, such as livestock raising or a small retail shop. With each cycle, members scale up their own economic activities for a better income. After two cycles, groups are mature and established in their savings habits, but often their business needs more capital to grow than their savings group can offer. To strengthen the savings group to better meet members’ needs, VisionFund has been piloting a savings group-led solution: a Savings Group Linkage Loan and digital savings accounts.
Savings Group Linkage Loans
A Savings Group Linkage Loan provides a loan to the whole savings group, as a top-up to the group’s loan fund.
VisionFund disburses a lump sum, based on how much the group saved in their last cycle. The group continues to make loans to their members from their increased loan fund, using their normal policy and process, repaying their VisionFund loan in instalments. The loan is disbursed early in the savings group cycle when the members’ own funds are low, and repaid at least one month before the group shares out. The interest rate of the VisionFund loan is lower than the savings group’s service charge, so the group generates more income on the loans, further increasing their funds available for share out.
Savings Groups and Technology
Regular bank accounts don’t always suit savings groups because of the high cost of travelling to the bank. VisionFund Zambia has been working on a digital solution with Savings at the Frontier to enable groups to save via mobile money. The unique three-PIN code access is designed to mimic the three-padlock system of the savings group cashbox, so that all leaders are involved in approving a transaction.
To make the Savings Group Linkage Loans happen, we’re partnering with NGOs who are facilitating savings groups, including World Vision and CARE. Our trusted funding partners such as Triple Jump and Mastercard Foundation have enabled VisionFund to test different products, solutions, digitisation and reaching groups in remote locations.