Principle 4


Promote a tested Savings Group model and instill in members an understanding and respect for that model’s procedures.

The various SG models have much in common. They all teach procedures based on the core values of SGs: democracy in decision making, transparency in group transactions, and autonomy of group operations. The strength of SGs depends on members’ commitment and respect for the chosen model and is manifested by members’ disciplined adherence to its values and procedures.

Elements of Principle 4

Guidance Notes

Commitment to the group constitution

Ensure that trainers empower members to develop their group constitutions in a participatory, informed, and democratic way, as this will promote ownership of and commitment to its policies and procedures. Help members understand that these policies and procedures function to protect the group from drifting into various pitfalls, including internal and external threats to the group and its assets. Updating the constitution is appropriate if there is a particular need to reflect the evolution of group practices over time and if all members agree to the change.

Caution with tempting shortcuts

Discourage practices that may offer greater efficiency but are likely to compromise group quality in the long run. For example, the practice of bringing several SGs together for training saves time but reduces the trainer’s interaction with each group. Similarly, decreasing the frequency of meetings also reduces training time but may negatively impact savings amounts and members’ ability to remember critical information from one meeting to the next.

Attention to the security of group funds

Reports of outright theft of group funds vary by project. While rare, when it occurs, it can be catastrophic for the SG. Stress a practice of strict confidentiality among all members about the box location and amounts saved, and encourage the group to devise locally appropriate solutions that enhance the security of their funds. These may be as simple as rotating where the group box is kept or as sophisticated as using a mobile wallet.

Respect for both borrowers and savers

Sometimes, trainers encourage members to borrow even if they do not need to; at other times, groups independently push loans on members or adopt a policy that the “box must be empty.” Send the consistent message to groups that it is acceptable for members to save without borrowing, and educate the group that savers make it possible for others to borrow. Look for patterns that suggest a pressure to borrow and quickly address it with the trainer. Encourage groups to devise and propose their own solutions to borrowing pressures.



Principle 5: If choosing to combine a Savings Group with other activities, plan carefully and respect the autonomy of the group.


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