Refugees Can't Join Savings Groups...or Can They?

Jan 16, 2020 | by The SEEP Network

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We know that Savings Groups are powerful. We know they can work for refugees and displaced people. But Savings Groups are seldom promoted among refugee populations. Why is this? Why do development and humanitarian actors working with refugees not see them as key tools in their toolbox?

This webinar was hosted by the SEEP Network’s Peer Learning Group (PLG) on Savings Groups for refugees – composed of representatives from the Danish Refugee Council, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, FSD Africa, Mercy Corps, Trickle Up, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and VisionFund International.

Through consultations with experts, Savings Groups and refugee and host communities over the past year, the Peer Learning Group dispelled several widely-held misconceptions – culminating in 10 tips for development, humanitarian and market actors that promote or work with Savings Groups for refugees.

In this webinar, we discussed how these tips came to be; explored one of the tips in detail; and most critically, heard how these lessons have changed UNHCR’s approach to Savings Groups for refugees.

We also heard from FSD Africa, UNCDF, VisionFund International and others working with refugee Savings Groups from East Africa to Jordan.

We believe if we can harness the community-led, low-cost, scalable nature of Savings Groups and make them work for the 65 million individuals that have been forcibly displaced worldwide because of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, we are on our way to valuable impact.


Sarah_Ward.jpgSarah Ward, Facilitator, Peer Learning Group on Savings Groups for Refugees, The SEEP Network

Sarah is a post-conflict/post-disaster market systems specialist with more than 18 years technical experience adapting market development approaches to some of the world’s most challenging contexts. She is currently a senior independent consultant supporting economic resilience. Sarah served as the lead facilitator for SEEP’s Refugees and Savings Groups Peer Learning Group and has been a core contributor to many market resilience initiatives at the SEEP Network, including the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards. Sarah was recently the Technical Advisor for Enterprise Development at the International Rescue Committee as well as the Director of Market Development for Mercy Corps. She has lived for many years in West Africa in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Benin and worked extensively in counties across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Melina_Djre.jpgMélina Djre, Financial Inclusion Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kenya

In this role, Mélina supports UNHCR’s Africa-wide field operations to expand the financial inclusion of persons of concern through informal financial services – such as Savings Groups managed by UNHCR implementing partners as well as formal finance. She holds a BA in Business and Economic Development from Ecole 3A and a Master of Applied Economics in Small Enterprises, Microfinance and Development from the University of Nancy.

This webinar was hosted by the SEEP Network
in partnership with FSD Africa.


Categories: Savings Groups Webinar Savings Groups Webinar 2020