Laura Fleischer Proaño
In 1999, Peace Corps Ecuador piloted a savings group programme called Programa de Ahorro y Crédito (PAC). In 11 years, it has grown to approximately 50,000 members in 1,500 savings groups, with very little programme investment and resources. A study by Freedom from Hunger shows that members have found many social and financial benefits through participation in the savings groups, have adapted the methodology to meet their needs, and are independently motivated to expand access by recruiting and assisting other community members to form new groups. While the study concludes with recommendations for strengthening savings group programmes, the continued existence of many mature PAC groups that received only minimal initial training and the high rate of replication of groups demonstrates that savings groups can be a popular and highly sustainable way to provide accessible and low cost financial services to the poor.