FORUM - A meeting place for practitioners and others interested in access to financial services in Southern Africa and beyond


Lessons and opportunities from SaveAct: a successful, sustainable, scalable rural savings and loan model at work in South Africa


Operating in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape since 2007, SaveAct has assisted about 650 groups with more than 15 000 members (mostly women) to establish savings and credit (S&C) groups that are providing access to financial services, enabling rural communities to fulfill needs and take advantage of opportunities in ways were previously out of reach. Groups are self-selected and, once they have been trained, operate independently. The return on savings generated by internal lending, averages more than 30% p.a., and default/rescheduling and membership attrition rates are almost nil. Stimulated by the inflow of social grants, collective assets/member equity total more than R15 million, demonstrating the capacity of poor rural communities to save and mobilize capital, when a medium that they understand and trust becomes available.

FinMark Trust in collaboration with SaveAct recently completed field research aimed primarily at investigating the relationship between membership of S&C groups and the development of rural enterprises, inter alia in agriculture. The effects of membership on consumption smoothing and the ability to meet peak period expenditure needs without having to borrow at exorbitant rates from 'loan sharks' were already well known.

The results of the research will be presented at the Forum, highlighting the degree to which savings are used to provide working and fixed capital for existing and new enterprises and to which income from these enterprises, in turn, generates savings for members of S&C groups. Says Anton Krone, founder and director of SaveAct, 'if there is no silver bullet for rural development, savings-led investment by communities comes about as close as one is going to get'.

The presentation explores the needs of the S&C movement, if its scale-up is to accelerate and it is to enable members to access a broader range of financial services. These generate opportunities for formal financial and non-financial institutions to understand and respond more effectively to the needs of the extensive low-income rural market.

The intention of the Forum is to report on the findings of the research and to stimulate discussion on the implications for realising the potential of the S&C movement and the opportunities for external stakeholders that arise. The report will be published on the FinMark Trust website shortly.

Date: 29 May 2012

Time: 17:30 - 19h00 (with refreshments thereafter)

Venue: The Dining Hall, Old Mutual Square, Isibaya Building, 93 Grayston Drive, Sandton

RSVP: Priscilla on