Inside a Savings and Loans Group Box

The Savings and Loans Group (SLG’s) provide community members with the opportunity to establish financial freedom while also participating in risk-averse business practices. Each SLG is composed of 15-20 individuals carrying out financial and savings procedures for approximately one year, with the savings and accumulated profits being divided at the end of the program. To ensure long-lasting financial independence SLG’s are managed by members, with initial training and lasting supervision conducted by community and program staff. Traditionally, members of an SLG meet once every week, although this is subject to change based on the opinion of the team members. Every meeting, members are required to purchase one or two shares of the savings with the price of this asset being determined at the start of every meeting. Throughout the entirety of the program, members are entitled to take out a loan that is three times the value of the shares they have purchased. A loan payment is due every four weeks, with the borrower responsible to repay the debt in 15 weeks. Additionally, a member facing an economic emergency reserves the ability to access small grants from the Social Fund. To ensure security of the funds, transactions will not occur outside of meetings, and the group’s money and account books will be held in a locked box. This box will be secured with three locks, with each key belonging to a different member of the group. One of these individuals must be a member of the Administrative Committee, a committee of 5 elected individuals for the period of one term. Members will be responsible for recording all of their own transactions in their respective accounting books.

The program will be conducted in 4 phases with diminishing support from community and program supervisors. By the end of the program members will be appropriately equipped to maintain financial security and independence. The Preparatory Phase provides information to community members on the function and benefit of an SLG, with the goal of incentivizing the SLG program to community members. After the SLG has been established, the intensive phase will last 15 weeks, including four visits from supervisors in the first five weeks, and six visits from supervisors in the subsequent ten weeks. Supervision will continue to taper in the following 15 week phase, the Development Phase. This period will only include three visits to SLG meetings from supervisors. The final phase, the Maturity Phase, is the culmination of group members achieving financial security and independence.

The program also includes three days of training during the Intensive Phase to ensure proper growth of the SLG. Each of the three days consist of three sessions, each seeking to build upon the growth of the SLG and the knowledge of the participants. By the end of the first day, trainees are aware of the services the SLG can provide to them, draft a constitution of the SLG, and have the ability to start making loans. By the second day, the trainees are familiar with the seating arrangement during meetings of savings and lending groups, know the form of the SLG box and all its contents, have sufficient knowledge of how to conduct the first savings meeting, and have sufficient knowledge of how to conduct the first loans meeting. By the third and final day of training, the participants are trained for the first payment process of loans in savings and loan meetings. Additionally, they are introduced to the final stages of the savings and loan group’s role: maturity, development, replacement, auditing and graduation.

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