Transitioning from Savings Groups to Cooperative

The third consolidation session last September 25 ended with a decision to move towards formal registration. Among the reasons for the consolidation and formalization are the need to mobilize for larger amount of resources and the installation of operating systems that will facilitate more efficient operations. Partnership with other funding agencies who will provide matching funds will also require a juridical personality for the groups.

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Savings group leaders expressing their opinions during the small group session

Leaders expressed their opinions about the proposal and its impact on their savings group, existing savings mobilization activities and the enterprises envisioned increasing income of the members. The participants agreed to proceed with the consolidation into a cooperative. A representative from each of the 33 villages was selected to form the core group that will work on the formal registration.

IMG_5595CDA Village Mobilizer Naw Win Win Hsu facilitating discussions on the consolidation of savings groups

With the move towards formalization, there will be a clear definition of roles between the savings groups and the cooperative. On the one hand, savings groups will provide provident loans to address urgent needs like hospitalization and immediate cash needs. On the other hand, the cooperative will provide for income-generating and production-related needs of the members like capital for agricultural production or enterprises which entail bigger amount.

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Leaders continue to discuss the issues in small groups while on break

The formal registration into a cooperative is the final stage for the institutional development component of the project. It is envisioned to be a model of a sustainable community-based financial institution that will provide financial access to rural individuals who are financially excluded and without access to any source of capital.

As of September 25, there were 99 savings group formed with 1,077 members mobilizing US$34,110. savings. The table below show the increase in the number of members and savings mobilized since the project started the organizing work in April 2015.

Period                    Village                    Participants              Number                 Number              Amount                                                                          to RSMT       of Savings Group         of members       of savings

April-June 2015             30                             1,081                        60                           545                     NA
July 2015                        33                                –                             83                          807               US$14,500.
August 2015                  33                             1,401                        88                          858               US$21,182.
September 2015           33                             1,565                        99                       1,077               US$34,110.

Members joining the cooperative will pay for the share capital that will be determined later. The amount will come either from their existing savings with the group or direct out-of-pocket payment. Other than the share capital, members can avail of deposit services that will be provided by the cooperative.

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Training on savings group consolidation completed

As part of the second stage of cooperative formation, the Training of Trainors on Informal Group Consolidation Technique (IGCT) was conducted on July 27-29, 2015 at the Project office in Hpa-an, Kayin State. The consolidation process was started with the attainment of the critical mass of 83 savings groups formed with total 807 members, representing 40% of the total target participants.

IMG_4664Facilitator Edwin Peraz stressing a point during one of the small group sessions

CDA together with representatives from the Kayin Cooperative Office, Union of Cooperative Syndicates (UCS) and PlaNet Finance comprised the 18 participants. Jay P. Supetran, PF Progam Manager and Edwin A. Peraz, Senior Consultant for Rural and Agricultural Microfinance of the Project were the resource persons and facilitators in the training.

IMG_4615Participants reviewed the IGCT session using participatory methods

The topics discussed in the training included the following:
– review of the cooperative development framework;
– review of the results of savings group formation activities for the past four months;
– inputs on the concept of consolidation and the conduct of IGCT; and,
– inputs on the enterprise modeling activities to be implemented starting August.

IMG_4631Icebreaker to break the monotony and perk up energy in-between sessions

The field teams of CDA drafted a plan for the continuing formation of groups using the Rapid Savings Mobilization Technique (RSMT) and the conduct of the second IGCT session by the end of August. Included in the plan are 5 village-level meetings where the first set of enterprise modeling will be implemented.

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$14,500 pooled savings in 4 months

Village Mobilizers of the Project formed savings groups in April and by the end of the month of July, there were now 83 groups with a combined membership of 807 individuals. The groups were also able to mobilize 14,501,000. Kyats ($14,000.) or an average of 17,969. Kyats per member.

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Myo Myo Htun, PF National Technical Consultant, assisting leaders of savings groups during registration

The leaders shared details about their savings groups during the consolidation session held last July 24, 2015 at the Aung San Conference Center at Hlaing-bwe Township. It was attended by 120 leaders who braved the rainy day to attend the first meeting of all savings group from the 34 villages taking part in the Project.

IMG_20150724_112005Participants to the IGCT  session

Participation of the leaders were generated by asking them to write in cards and posting them in the walls of the conference center. Some of the leaders struggled in writing in cards but were excited to see information about how other groups are doing in their savings mobilization. For some leaders this is the first time for them to attend session using participatory process.

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Leaders of savings group preparing information of their groups for posting

Savings groups with the highest amount of savings were also recognized. The top five savings groups included the following:

Village                               Savings group                        Total savings
A Htet Yae Pu                  San Thit Aung                              800,000.MMK
Ma Ae                                Pan Khin Lan                               500,000. MMK
Kwat Myat Gyi                 Ywar Thar Aye                             480,000. MMK
Tar Baung Kone              Shwe Lin Yaung                           420,000. MMK
Win Sein                           Yie Man Chat Pang Taing          400,000.MMK

 

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Gallery walk: reviewing the performance of other groups

The leaders of the savings groups were also informed of the project component on the modeling of enterprises. Selected agricultural products and non-agri activities will be pilot tested in the villages to determine the feasibility of the enterprises. This will enable the cooperative to narrow-down the economic activities it will finance once it starts its lending operation.

????????????????Saw Hein Htet Win, PF National Technical Consultant discussing the problems identified in managing savings groups.