Mr. Kaiza Sakafu, a Family Strengthening Consultant from SOS Children’s Village in Arusha, gave a training workshop on Friday, May 28th, 2021 regarding savings and lending groups.  His report is below.

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This report narrates the training conducted to Toa Nafasi tutors on Savings and Lending Groups at Mwereni Primary School.  It was a one-hour workshop whereby 28 teachers participated.  A brief knowledge on savings groups and procedures and activities of the groups was imparted to the participants.  Topics covered included but were not limited to: general understanding of shares, principles of savings groups, how the groups function, and steps on establishing the savings groups.  Also touched on were advantages of the scheme.

The main objective of this training was to equip the Toa tutors with skills and knowledge on Savings and Lending groups, so that they can start to operate their own groups for facilitating their development.  The methodology used was a PowerPoint presentation with a lecture followed by discussion.  These methodologies were chosen in order to facilitate an in-depth understanding of the subject as well as to effectively allow participant engagement, especially the discussion.  Also, based on limited time, this approach ensured the expected objective would be attained.

General Understanding of Savings and Lending Groups

Participants were taken through key terms that are included in group operations in order to build a base.  The terms included and explanation of savings, loans, and shares.  The tutors indicated a bit of knowledge of the terms and a few were noted to be members of similar groups in the community.  The emphasis was mainly on understanding that the group pillar is shares because these provide the members with related power to take adequate loans as per her needs.  So, participants were encouraged to save adequately when a group starts.

Principles of Savings and Lending Groups

This topic covers key issues that members need to adhere to for a group to be strong and sustainable.  One example is ensuring members save enough and use their funds for loans since no outside funds are supposed to be pumped to a group.  The sustainability of the group depends mainly on members’ savings.  Another example is ensuring the procedures for group activities are simple, fast, and easy for all members to manage and enjoy group service, which is different from macro finance.  Lastly, the members need to adhere to the principles of the general meeting, which is a tool for group operations, and nothing is to be conducted outside of this meeting.

How Savings and Lending Groups Function

Participants were then taken through key functions that are adequate to make the group work.  These include membership which is supposed to be between 15 and 30 people, however based on the nature of each group, it could be more.  Because each group is autonomous to itself and needs to make decision from members’ input, there is a need to develop a group constitution that will lead the group’s operations.  This includes planning for a place, time, and duration for having the group meetings as well as the safety of the cash.  It is advised for the group to have a cash box, or any other method that the group feels is safe.

How to Establish a Savings and Lending Group

This is a very crucial topic, as it sets a pace for a group to start.  Participants were oriented on steps to go through for the establishment of a group.  That includes agreeing on the name of the group, a place and time for meetings, conducting an election for selecting the group management team which will manage meetings and represent the group outside.  Next, the tutors were trained on deciding the value of shares, terms of loans, interest, and social funds’ contributions and benefits.  At this point, it is possible for a group to start.  The group will also need to create by-laws which will indicate how the group is managed, and how services are provided.  A brief training on record-keeping was also covered.  The tutors were then suggested to ensure they start the aforementioned process early, so that savings start right away for the benefit of the members.

Mr. Kaiza’s recommendations were that:

  • Imparting Savings and Lending Groups knowledge and skills requires adequate time for participants to effectively grasp the topic and be able to deliver expected results with more benefits.  The process includes training theory but also practical work, and where possible even to visit existing groups for learning.  One hour was observed to be insufficient to impart well the intended skills.  It is recommended that trainings of similar nature be at least 3 to 5 full days, for better results.  If the budget is limited, then they can be conducted in phases, but one cannot try to cover everything in one hour.
  • The organization (Toa Nafasi) is recommended to adopt a coaching and mentoring approach for the group to be strong and take advantage of the trainings.  That means leadership should provide a tender for a certain duration (ideally one month or more), whereby the identified person with related knowledge will be instructing the group directly each time they meet.