VSLA By the Numbers: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Impact and ROI of VSLAs

Publication Date: 18/08/2022

Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) have been a foundational programmatic approach at CARE since 1991. Since then, CARE has helped over 13.7 million people join savings groups. The savings group model has been adopted and adapted by a variety of organizations globally. Through this report, we will examine the social and financial effects and returns of savings groups as well as how groups affected members’ resilience to COVID-19. The results gave an overview of the financial return on investment (ROI), group economic outcomes, savings groups costs, and individual and household effects for savings groups both inside and outside of CARE.

In order to calculate a return on investment, the financial benefit for a typical participant over three years was considered as well as the financial benefits for a replicated VSLA for two years related to the cost that the donor/implementer spends to set up and oversee the VSLA for its first cycle. Using internal CARE data such as budgets, evaluation, and impact reports, the average ROI of costs to establish a saving group was between 7:1 and 20:1. For every $1 invested by CARE, there is evidence for the savings of a typical VSLA participant to increase between $7 and $20. For the average VSLA participant, median income increased by $9.35 (+/- $0.55 USD) within the first year of joining the group for each $1 USD invested. Additionally, average income increased by $18.85 (+/-$1.15 USD) within five years of each $1 USD invested. Using industry data and internal CARE data, this analysis showed that for every $250 USD invested three net new children attended school.

The financial effect of a VSLA appears to outlast the formal lifecycle of the group. Evaluation of VSLAs as they phased out found that the return on savings (ROS) was 50% (+/-10%) during the supported formal lifecycle of the group and decreased to around 35% (+/-19%) after the VSLA is phased out. However, the positive outcomes and impact of participating in VSLAs continue even after project phase out. Members continue saving and getting benefits. Share value even increase for 57% (+/-13%) of groups in the available data.