A deep dive into Savings Groups and their services

Throughout history, informal financial services have been serving clients’ financial needs.  Informal financial services capture a range of collective savings, lending, and insurance mechanisms. Forms in Zambia include savings groups(VSLAs, SILC ), village banks, kalobas and chilimbas. Although access to formal financial services has been increasing, informal financial services remain relevant as their value to the users is a mix of social and financial elements. An increasing number of Zambians now use both formal and informal financial products5. In recent years, there have been various efforts to increase demand for and supply of formal services to these informal groups. Despite this, attempts so far have not yielded significant results. However, emerging trends and unforeseen circumstances such as the Covid-19 pandemic6  have provided a new twist to both formal and informal financial services.

For financial service providers (FSPs), offering the right product to the right market segment is key to the commercial viability of financial products. The right product provides value to its users by meeting their needs, being consistent with their beliefs and values, and fitting in with their habits and behaviours, while also being financially viable for the client and the FSP.

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