Examining the impact of a savings group program in rural Mali
This paper describes the research conducted in Mali by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the University of Arizona. It examines the impacts of Saving for Change (SFC), a Savings Group program developed by Freedom from Hunger, Oxfam America, and the Strómme Foundation.IPA conducted a randomized control trial (RCT) with 500 villages (6000 households) as well as high frequency surveys with a subset of 600 households over a three-year period between 2009 and 2012. BARA conducted an ethnographic case study with a purposive sample of 19 villages including those in the RCT area with a baseline in 2009 and an endline in 2012.
SFC is an effective program providing real socioeconomic benefits to its intended populations;
About 40% of women in treatment villages and 12% of women in control villages joined SFC;
Those who joined SFC were on average slightly older, more socially connected, and wealthier than non-members;
Program also reached remote and poor villages where the majority of the households were living on USD 1 per day;
SFC led to small, but positive and statistically significant economic effects when compared to control villages including increases in savings, loans, food security, household livestock holdings, and improvements in malaria knowledge, but not behavior.