Health shocks are the most prominent idiosyncratic shocks and stresses that low-income households face. Demand for health financing support is often higher than any other financial risk management solution, and demand far exceeds the supply. An improved and expanded choice of health financing options is needed to ensure low-income households have financial instruments to anticipate, respond to, and recover from health events without resulting in increased vulnerability and poverty traps. This will require patient and long-term investments from donors, investors, governments, health service actors and the financial services sector and will require thinking about health financing through an ecosystem lens, where demand generation for and supply of health services and health financing should be designed to intersect.
The Building the Resilience of Vulnerable Communities in Burkina Faso (BRB) project leveraged women’s savings groups as a platform to provide complementary services in nutrition and agricultural education, access to agricultural extension support, linkages to formal agricultural and micro-business financing, and gender dialogues with the aim of improving household resilience. A mixed-methods, longitudinal quasi-experimental research design implemented between 2016 and 2018 found that BRB participants experienced improved food security, dietary diversity, self-perceived resilience and sustained savings accumulation despite an economic downturn experienced in 2017 due to a drought and subsequent poor harvests. Women reported increases in the implementation of new income-generating activities, earned income, the adoption of climate-smart agricultural techniques and improvements in harvest production as a result of the project interventions. There were mixed outcomes in social norms related to decision-making power, fear of spouse, and confidence in speaking out in mixed-gender forums. Despite the inherent difficulty in measuring changes in resilience, the research supporting the BRB project suggests a sense of “bouncing back” among the treatment group after the 2017 drought in Burkina Faso compared to the comparison group.
The Grameen Foundation program, “Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin” advanced opportunities for rural women and their husbands to make choices about reproductive health that best fit their individual and family needs. It built on “Healthy Savings,” an earlier program by Freedom from Hunger (now part of Grameen Foundation). The Reproductive Health program worked with women’s savings groups to combine health savings with access to family planning education and linkages to health providers. The program served 11,590 women in 516 savings groups. Gender Dialogues--facilitated conversations about family planning—engaged husbands and partners in discussion, leading to greater joint decision-making among women and men in planning families and choosing birth control.
In 2015, Freedom from Hunger India Trust, Grameen Foundation and RESULTS Educational Fund launched the Maa aur Shishu Swasthya (MASS) (Mother and Child Health) program in India. Integrating the delivery of health education, financial services, and linkages to health care providers, the program reached more than half a million Indian women. Key components were implemented in West Bengal and Jharkhand with financial service partners Aikyatan Development Society (ADS) and Bandhan Konnagar. This comprehensive report highlights the key findings and learnings, and contains links to related resources developed by the program’s Community of Practice for Health and Microfinance (COPHAM).
August 29, 2018 by Sybil Chidiac, Senior Regional Director at Grameen Foundation
At SEEP's recent Savings Groups 2018 Conference, Sybil Chidiac spoke at a session called "Reflecting to Improve: Looking Back on Savings Groups for Vulnerable Populations." The Gateway caught up with her after the conference to learn more about this topic.
Unmet demand for family planning in Bénin is acute. Grameen Foundation, in partnership with two local non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in Bénin—APHEDD (Association pour la Promotion de l’Homme, la Protection de l’Environnement pour un Développement Durable and FADeC (Femmes Actrices de Développement Communautaire)— is working to integrate family planning support into APHEDD and FADeC’s existing Savings Group programs, in a new project called Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin which seeks to advance opportunities for rural women and...
I am Saving—Lessons Learned from Implementation of Integrated Savings Services and Financial Education for Two Ecuadorian Credit Unions
This publication by the European Microfinance Platform analyzes a variety of macro- and micro-level factors that can impact the scalability and sustainability of youth integrated services. The work of two Ecuadorian credit union partners, Cooperativa San Jose and Cooperativa Cooprogreso, are highlighted to share their experiences of developing youth financial and nonfinancial services.
This study identifies challenges and opportunities of using mobile money with savings groups as it assesses:
June 03, 2014
Camilla Nestor, Grameen Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Global Solutions, teaches a financial inclusion course at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. As part of her course, students submitted blog posts that were evaluated by professors and Grameen Foundation’s communications staff. The first of the two winning posts is featured here.
March 24, 2014
By Kimberly Davies, Program Officer, Financial Services
You’ve finally gotten that new savings product off the ground and into people’s hands. They sign up in droves—and then they go silent.