Savings and lending communities

Athieng Gai is the owner of a successful salon in the middle of Bor town in Jonglei State. Gaining access to money or a loan has traditionally been difficult for women in South Sudan where the men in the house often control finances. However JFSP’s introduction of savings and lending activities into the community has meant that women just like Athieng can be now be financially independent from their husbands. SILC, or Savings and Internal Lending Committee, is a self-selected group of community members who contribute their own money for savings and lending activities. “Without SILC, I could not have afforded to start my salon business. SILC has trained me not only to manage my finances but also how to plan properly in order to make more money. I am now proud because I am able to help others understand how to save the little they got rather than spending it anyhow.” In addition to a loan fund, SILC members also contribute to a social fund, which can be accessed in the event of emergencies with no added interest.

The program supports vulnerable rural communities to have access to sustainable financial services through the saving and internal lending communities (SILC) approach. Through SILC, self-selected members of the community (mostly women), get together to learn the basic principles of financial literacy, to eventually pull their resources together to mobilize sufficient savings, borrow internally and pay back the loans plus interest. SILC group contributions comprise two types of funds namely saving fund meant for issuing internal loans to finance small income generating activities (IGAs) and social fund to cater for emergencies.



SILC group formation and training

The program recruits field agents (FAs) and supervisors from within the communities to mobilize, train and supervise SILC group activities in a particular payam. These are individuals with high level of integrity with some basic literacy level that can allow them to learn some basics of financial literacy and assist their neighbors the majority of whom are illiterate in conducting the meetings, recording keeping, etc…. With the guidance of the program SILC officer, FAs mobilize and advise local communities to form SILC groups and train them on how to do it. In general, a SILC group is composed of 15-25 self-selected individuals who get together to learn basic principles of saving and borrowing to ultimately pull their resources together, make enough savings and issue the loans to the group members to finance small businesses of their choice and pay back the loan with interest.

Through FAs and supervisors, the program trains SILC group members in SILC methodology and financial education. Based on the SILC methodology, the program supports new SILC groups with  saving materials (SILC boxes, stationery pad locks etc) for the safety of their savings.

Conducting saving meetings

With facilitation and supervision of FAs and supervisors, SILC groups meet once every week to discuss issues pertaining with their group organization, and use that opportunity to make savings, issue loans and receive payback and interest from the borrowers. The SILC group members agree on the minimal amount of cash to be saved at each meeting session and select among themselves three different members to keep the keys of the 3 different padlocks of the saving box. All the savings, fine and any other contributions from the SILC groups are strictly locked together with the record books inside the saving box whose keys are kept with the three different key holders while the saving box itself is kept by the group’s treasurer.

Integration with other sectors

SILC coordinates with the livelihood, WASH and Resilience sectors to build the financial literacy capacity of the groups dealing with potential income generating activities (IGAs). In some cases, RFSP beneficiaries need to get loans from SILC to start IGAs in agriculture, livestock/fishery and WASH while other beneficiaries come to SILC to learn how to safely manage the revenue generated from other program sectors. In the context of Jonglei where poor communities have no access to formal banking services, the program strongly encourages most of the beneficiaries involved in different livelihood activities to also join SILC as alternative means of securing access to finance.


RFSP Savings & Internal Lending Video