Evaluation of SfC Projects in El Salvador by IADB
This is an independent impact evaluation of a Saving for Change project
This is an independent impact evaluation of a Saving for Change project implemented in El Salvador by Oxfam America and its local partners: FUNDESA and CRIPDES. The project, "Community Savings and Economic Empowerment Groups of Women in Rural Areas" (ATN / ME-13716-ES), was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and implemented in the period April 2013 – October 2017. The evaluation was also commissioned and managed by IADB independently and covers the entire period of the project.
The major evaluation activities took place between the 18th and the 24th of April 2017. The evaluation was carried out by the independent consultant, Sophie Chauliac, and it reflects the findings as reported by her and validated with stakeholders.
The general objective of the project was to improve the living conditions of poor and low-income women in rural areas of El Salvador. The specific objective was to establish mechanisms of self-financing, empowerment and of technical skills to poor and low-income women in rural areas. The project had four major areas of change: Access to informal and formal financial services, promotion of economic alternatives linked to food security and capitalization of the methodology in order to seek opportunities for scale up.
7,700 participants (80% women) saved over 1 million dollars and got access to 17,000 small credits using the Saving for Change methodology while strengthening their social capital. The results regarding linkages to the formal financial sector were limited. The saving groups did not articulate well with the MFIs and these institutions lacked the motivation to invest more in accessing the rural poor. Out of the two original financial products and MFI linkages planned in the project, It was possible to develop one financial product and involve one credit cooperative. The most complex component to implement was the one related to income generating activities, linked to food security. Out of the 1,200 market gardens supported, 709 were functioning and 20% of those were generating surplus by the end of the project. There were important achievements in relation to the sustainability and scale up of the initiative: Formal alliances were established with City of women, a national initiative of the Social action secretariat of the El Salvador government and with the Bank for Agricultural Development.
Despite the mixed results achieved by the project in some of its components, the evaluation contains a series of valuable lessons and recommendations that could save considerable time and resources to other projects working in similar thematic areas in El Salvador.