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VIP Profile: Margot Fuller

Published 09/14/2011 by Global Communities

VIP Profile: Margot Fuller

Rwanda, June – August 2011

Evaluating Internal Savings and Lending Groups (ISLGs) to Develop Economic Strengthening Strategy

Internal Savings and Lending Groups (ISLGs) are one of the mechanisms used to encourage savings and borrowing for economic development purposes. In Rwanda, their formation is assisted by the USAID-funded Higa Ubeho program, with cooperative development program – EMIRGE – contributing in a number of selected areas. One such area is the review of our approaches to the formation and strengthening ISLGs to assess whether group membership is favorably impacting participants and whether they are a strong foundation for economic cooperation among members.  
To assist with evaluation of ISLGs already formed, and to define ways to further assist them Margot Fuller spent the summer of 2011 in Rwanda, working with the EMIRGE team and its program Director. A year earlier Margot worked at CHF International headquarters as Associate Program Development Officer, but returned in 2011 to volunteer her time, recognizing that direct field experience will help her make future career choices and considerably add to her learning.   
In Kigali and other program sites Margot worked with the Economic Strengthening team.  Part of her work was to evaluate the cooperatives and savings and lending groups, and the motivation of members in joining these groups. The need for such research related to the groups’ viability which could be challenged if the motive for members to join appeared other than the core purpose of these groups, i.e. saving and borrowing. The ISLG sustainability could become a question and could impact our institutional effectiveness at reaching vulnerable households with other services. As part of the qualitative evaluation Margot conducted focus groups, like the one pictured in Rwamagana, to gather pertinent inputs from members.
Training of ISLG members was also a part of the ongoing implementation of the project. Based on the evaluation and training, a programmatic decision was made to suspend the ISLG formation temporarily in order to enhance oversight of existing clients and strengthen local partners in the types of assistance they currently offer to the groups. For CHF, this offered an opportunity to further define our methodology, establish protocols and tools for ISLG strengthening, and to standardize processes.