It has been more than a year since COVID-19 lockdowns began, and economic recovery is a top priority for governments, donors, and international financial institutions (IFIs) worldwide, including in sub-Saharan Africa. Targeted investments that increase community resilience and spur economic growth will mitigate some of the negative economic consequences of this crisis. Investment in women’s economic resilience and social support is para- mount, considering that the crisis may reverse recent progress in gender equality. Around the world, women’s groups, such as self- help groups, savings groups, and health groups, play an important role in communities; evidence shows promise in their role in promoting women’s empowerment and economic outcomes. They encompass many models, but all bring women together around a shared purpose, such as financial inclusion, livelihoods, health, and women’s rights.
This brief focuses on one specific type of women’s group in sub-Saharan Africa: savings groups. Savings groups are a common form of women’s group and serve as a reliable mechanism for people in sub-Saharan Africa to save money. Members of savings groups pool small weekly savings into a common fund, which members can then borrow against, creating opportunities for investments and women’s empowerment. Savings groups show mixed, but promising, results in improving economic and social outcomes. This brief, written by a consortium of researchers and practitioners, presents emerging evidence from studies in diverse African contexts— with a deep dive into Nigeria and Uganda—on how COVID-19 has affected savings groups and how these groups have helped mitigate the pandemic’s negative consequences in sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: International Organization for Migration