Last week, the “Making Savings Work for the Poor”. On the first day, GAP director Jamie Zimmerman and Debbie Dean of the Grameen Foundation challenged five basic assumptions within the field:
1) There is a common definition of savings
2) Only formal institutions should offer savings
3) If we build it, they will come
4) There is a business case for microsavings
5) Data exist that can help us understand how to effectively provide savings services to the poor
The links above will lead to the full discussion threads on the Microlinks website. Overall, debate around the first four assumptions and answers to the questions posed hinged on the field’s challenges to Assumption #5 regarding savings data. It rested on Jamie’s main question: “if we do not fully understand, or even know, all the variables that can make our products successful (or not!), then how can we have meaningful conversations about what works and what doesn't? How can we identify exactly what it is about that product or service that is making it successful?” So did we find an answer? If there ever was a conclusion to come to, this would be it! Of course, there was no consensus but fortunately, Jamie highlighted the SPINNAKER project’s efforts to not only collect savings product data, but also identify which data we need and that which simply does not exist.
To learn more about SPINNAKER and its efforts to collaboratively overcome the challenges of the savings field, watch this webinar. In summary, the SPINNAKER project aims to provide practitioners and researchers with an online platform that highlights innovative savings products and efforts from around the world through aggregating data and information on savings and engaging with leaders in the field. This is a developing project with collaboration at its core, and we would love to hear from you on what elements of the website you find useful, what it is missing, and how we can incorporate your work and efforts.
Be sure to check out the Microlinks website for the full, detailed three day discussion that took place led by our friends at Save the Children, Freedom from Hunger, and the SEEP Network. Thanks to everyone for your participation, sharing, and insight!