|Where Does Saving Fit into Micro-finance Systems? (GRET)|
In Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, the launch of most "rural credit" institutions and projects dates back to the early 90s. Today, the prospect of the institutionalization of certain projects has revived debates on where the resources originate, the sustainability of the financial systems and the involvement of the beneficiaries. Savings are central to these issues. However, operators are virtually unanimous in one of their main observations: how difficult it is to mobilize savings.
As can be seen in other respects, the promoters of micro-finance systems tend to be divided on what strategy to employ with regard to mobilizing savings. There is much talk of the differences in approach of those in favor of "savings first" and those in favor of "credit first". One could also cite differences of opinion relating to the ways in which savings are mobilized: for some, they must necessarily be voluntary, for others possibly obligatory.
In fact, technical, institutional and even ideological references sometimes combine to determine a policy on this. This results in persistent areas of confusion and misunderstandings between certain operators. One of the sources of confusion relates precisely to the rigidity of technical transfers which are sometimes made between local contexts which are very different.
This document attempts to analyze this issue from its main angles. In order to clearly show how the difference in situations can dictate the differentiation of the technical means used, we will compare the context of the countries of the Indochinese peninsula with that of the countries of West Africa.
For the most part this analysis, as far as South-east Asia is concerned, draws on Gret's own experience. The aim of the document is to provide a point of view. It is intended neither to be exhaustive, nor representative of the experiments currently taking place as a whole.
The document describes the factors which determined how the technical credit protocols of Gret's projects in Cambodia and in Vietnam were elaborated, the way in which the situation has evolved with regard to the problem of savings, and finally the consequence of this evolution on savings mobilization strategy.