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list-iconManuals, guides, and curricula

Name of tool

Tool description

VSL Programme Guide for Field Officers
VSL Programme Guide for Village Agents

“The VSL Associates Programme Guides teach what must be considered the standard SG approach, since it is by far the most widely practiced. It started life as a comprehensive guide for organisations that wanted to get involved in SG work but has become much more tightly focused on what a trainer needs to do when mobilising and training SGs. Available in English, Kiswahili, Portuguese and French, it covers all of the steps that an SG needs to:

  • set up a governing structure and statutes;
  • conduct savings, credit and social fund activities using carefully scripted, highly standardised procedures
  • create and maintain the key financial records of a group
  • distribute accumulated financial assets amongst the members at the end of an annual cycle and
  • to set the group on its way in a subsequent annual cycle and cease further unsolicited contact.
CRS manual: Private Service Provider Implementation Manual

The Private Service Provider Implementation Manual provides step-by-step guidance to local organizations that wish to use the Private Service Provider (fee-for-service approach) to implement a savings group program.The manual covers the following:

  1. Project planning and agent recruitment
  2. Agent training and supervision
  3. Agent certification
  4. Organization of agents into sustainable networks

The CRS PSP manual encapsulates the CRS approach which differs in two major respects from the more common VSL Associates approach: The CRS manual is designed for training groups that use a ledger based system. It also inserts the trainees into the PSP fee-for-service system. It offers the most detailed set of tools for assessing, certifying and incentivizing trainers.

Savings Group Manual | A Toolkit for Implementing FH’s Child- Focused Community Transformation (CFCT) Model, Washington, D.C.: Food for the Hungry

This excellent manual from Food for the Hungry essentially presents the standard VSLA approach, with additional enrichments including optional biblical reflections. It contains excellent trainer aids, and some unexpected modules such as a financial landscape analysis tool and a module on honesty. Also available in Spanish and French. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Available to nonprofits with appropriate acknowledgement. Kindly contact for more information.

World Relief SG manual

Like Food for the Hungry, World Relief, has developed a manual that incorporates Christian teachings, and like FH, WR puts more emphasis on human development and group solidarity than do the more purely financial approaches of  CRS and VSL Associates. The World Relief manual is designed to be used in the context of projects that work through networks of churches, and unlike FH, the biblical references are integral parts of the approach.

Saving for Change Manuals

The Saving for Change manuals (Oxfam America and Freedom from Hunger) came out of the experience of forming Savings Groups in the Sahel, where there was low literacy, fairly homogeneous populations, primarily women’s groups, and great seasonality in income. As a result, the procedures, which differ in important ways from those of the CRS or VSL approaches, are well adapted to the Sahel, but perhaps less likely to meet the needs of a more diverse and more literate population elsewhere.

1.) Savings Group Formation – Trainer’s Guide 

Provides a set of activities to train animators to effectively use the Saving for Change: Replicatoin of Savings Groups Animator‘s Guide. 

2.) Savings Group Replication – Animator’s Guide 

Serves as a guide for the animator to form and train Savings Groups to develop strong and healthy habits for independent operation.

3.) Savings Group Replication – Pictorial Guide 

The Pictorial Guide is equivalent to the Saving for Change: Replication of Savings Groups Animator’s Guide. The difference is that the Pictorial Guide is “written” with pictures. This carefully-designed set of tools is designed to equip non-literate Replicators to facilitate training meetings, raise issues for discussion with groups, and form and train new groups.

Additionally, the SFC program has also developed guides more tailored to Latin America, once for use by literate trainers, one for use by low literacy replicators:

A.) Manual Pictografico Formación de Grupos de Ahorro

This pictographic manual focuses on group formation for low literacy replicators in Latin America (tailored for Guatemala)

B.) Manual de Formación de grupos de Ahorro-Guia de la Facilitadora

This manual guides the trainer through a series of exercises to form and train savings groups.  It includes a short curriculum on gender including women’s rights, gender violence and masculinity.

play-iconVideos, Apps, and Interactive Tools

Name of tool

Tool description

Critical Message Videos

Critical Message Videos (CMVs) are an innovation of FSD Zambia, being developed in coordination with Plan Zambia, CARE Zambia, and CARE’s local partner PSP. They are designed to communicate principles that apply to all SGs, regardless of the facilitating agency. The CMVs are designed to reinforce the messages of a good trainer, fill in gaps in understanding in the case of less strong trainers, and allow groups that have formed without trainers to better understand the basic principles of SGs. A six-month pilot test is underway.The first five topics are:

  1. Groups must be governed by a constitution
  2. All transactions must take place in front of all SG members at orderly SG meetings
  3. All members participate in savings and loan procedures – Savers and borrowers are equal partners
  4. Cash Safety
  5. Member has responsibility to be informed

The videos are in local languages; FSDZ will make the scripts in English available on request.

e-Recording (App)

e-Recording is an app that runs on Android phones. It aids with the bookkeeping of a Savings Group. It begins by asking the user to list all the members of the group, then guides the members through writing the group’s constitution. The app then takes members through the steps of each meeting, recording each transaction. It reduces the calculation of share out amounts to a process of less than five minutes. One of the widely appreciated features of the e-Recording app is that it will not permit loans to be recorded that exceed the leverage ratio specified by the group.

The e-Recording app will only work on Android smart phones. It is a free download from the Google Play store, and can also be loaded from

If you download and plan to use it, please keep FSD Kenya informed of your experience, any problems encountered, and lessons learned. Write to Kuria Wanjau at

e-Kit (App)

e-Kit is an app designed to enable new and existing Savings Groups learn about core concepts on mobilization, formation of groups as well as how to effectively operate and manage their activities as groups whose objective is to help improve their own livelihoods through common savings and borrowing.

The e-Kit app is available for download for free in the Google Play store.

Freedom from Hunger videos

Freedom From Hunger has produced a set of didactic videos using animated videos, capable of being shown on a phone, and directed at village agents. 

  • Watch Freedom from Hunger Mobile Training: Savings Groups Formation
  • Watch Going Mobile: A New Frontier in Savings Group Training
AKF Videos

AKF and VSL Associates produced a similar set of videos based on the VSLA approach, filmed in Africa and Asia. The nine videos cover:

  1. Introduction and General Principles
  2. The delivery mechanism: one year CBSG training cycle
  3. Group Formation
  4. Social Fund, savings, and credit policies
  5. Record-keeping
  6. Savings meeting
  7. Loan meeting
  8. Daily savings option
  9. Annual share out

Videos are an excellent supplement to any training of trainers.  Trainers should sample both sets of videos, and choose the one that best fits their needs – or, have trainees watch both sets and report on differences between them as a training exercise.

World Vision videos
World Vision has produced a clear set of ten videos, based on the VSLA approach, with the following topics, showing meetings in a African setting:

  1. An Introduction to Savings Groups
  2. Opening the Meeting
  3. Daily Savings
  4. Share Purchasing
  5. Loan repayment
  6. Calculating New Loan Fund
  7. Loan Taking
  8. The Social Fund
  9. Totaling Balances
  10. Closing the Meeting

doc-iconCase Studies, Research, and Articles

Name of tool

Tool description

Integrity: Without it, Nothing Works

This paper, available here, is a short and very dense introduction to the concept of Integrity as a management principle, relevant to any program promoting Savings Groups. It contains links to fuller descriptions of the principle, but in itself it is a useful guide.


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