Men and youth have been challenged not to remain behind by joining Savings Groups to improve their livelihoods and to reduce household poverty.

Largely dominated by women by about 75%, Savings Groups are proving to be a sustainable means for empowering rural communities and households to reduce poverty.

While women have taken the lead in encouraging men and youth to join Savings Groups, a few men and youth that have joined have become advocates of change for men and youth to join Savings Groups.

On the 16th June, 2020, RUFEP visited Savings Groups supported by Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) under the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages (CBFIs) Window of RUFEP’s Innovation and Outreach Facility (IOF) Matching grant.

Chilope SILC Group women performing drama during the field visit

With a membership of 24 women and one man, Chilope Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) Group in Chilope Village, Fiwila, Chief Shaibila has taken the initiative of using drama to persuade men and youth to join Savings Groups.

Using drama performance, women act on roles of men as heads of households to confront their attitudes towards Savings Groups and to showcase benefits of joining SILC Groups.

Benefits cited by women for belonging to a Savings Group in a rural community includes access to finances throughout the year, social fund for any emergency, increased agricultural productivity and household incomes, improved nutrition and livelihoods which ultimately reduces poverty at household level.

Mrs. Vincensia Muntanga is a member of the Chilope SILC Group. Mrs. Muntanga said belonging to a SILC Group guarantees access to finances throughout the year adding that men that have joined have seen the benefits for themselves.

Mrs. Charity Mukosha

Mrs. Charity Mukosha is the Chairlady for Chilope SILC Group. Mrs. Mukosha said she has been able to buy agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer as a result of access to finances from the Savings Group.

“My husband supports me to save. Benefits are many for belonging to Savings Groups. I’m able to buy farming inputs. Recently I bought two ox-drawn ploughs. Our nutrition and eating habits have improved. We buy cooking oil and drink tea like people in towns”, Mrs. Mukosha said.

Mrs. Maureen Mayuni, a smallholder farmer in Chikupili, area, Luano District, is a member of Chikawama SILC Group. Mrs. Mayuni has been saving in the SILC Groups since 2018.

Mrs. Maureen Mayuni

With access to loans from the group, she was able to diversify her seasonal income from farming to other businesses which have continued to guarantee a steady income throughout the year.

From the share-out in 2019, Mrs. Mayuni bought iron sheets for her house, agricultural inputs and a cow. She has also been able to support her school going children using income from the Savings Group.


Butemwe SILC Group (Top photo) consists of 25 members, all women in Mukusulo area, Chief Shaibila in Luano District. Mrs. Florence Chisenga, a smallholder farmer has been saving with Butemwe SILC Group for the past three years.

Speaking during the field visit, Mrs. Chisenga disclosed that from the savings, she has been able to borrow and pay back loans from the group, buy farming inputs and increased her agricultural productivity.

A number of young women that joined Butemwe SILC Group were influenced by their mothers and friends when they saw the benefits of belonging to a Saving Group in their homes.

Aliness Musonda testified that she was persuaded by her mother to join Butemwe SILC Group when she saw the benefits her mother derived from the group.

“My mother gave me seed capital to start saving. I joined Butemwe SILC Group in 2019 and started saving. Since then my livelihood has transformed. I’m grateful to ZRDF and RUFEP for supporting Savings Groups in our area”, she said.

A few men and youth that have joined Savings Groups were happy to testify of the benefits of belonging to Savings Groups and the transformation that comes with it in terms of improved livelihoods.

Mr. Anold Ntaimu

Mr. Anold Ntaimu is a member of Chikawana SILC Group in Chikupili, Luano District. Mr. Ntaimu said before joining the Savings Group, he used to spend his money carelessly.

“Ever since I joined Chikawana SILC Group, I have learnt how to save money, how to spend money wisely and how to grow my money through business”, Mr. Ntaimu testified while challenging men to join the Savings Groups.

Mr. Felix Mwiinga

Mr. Felix Mwiinga is a smallholder farmer in Chikupili area and is a member of Scheme One SILC Group. Mr. Mwiinga said before joining the Savings Group, he used to use a bucket to water his garden.

“My wife persuaded me to join Scheme One SILC Group where she was a member and I started saving. With my first loan, I managed to buy a water pump, garden seeds and chemicals. My productivity has now increased”, he disclosed.

Mr. Mwiinga urged men who are not in SILC Groups to join and start saving to improve their livelihoods and to increase their productivity.




The Corona-Virus disease (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that has disrupted the global economy, geo-political, social, economic order of nation-states including social relations at individual level.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, international borders, companies, businesses, education institutions closed. Social gatherings, meetings, handshakes were outlawed while workers had to work from home to prevent the spread.

The Rural Finance sub-sector and the quest to promote access to financial services by rural people in Zambia has not been spared from the adverse effects of COVID-19.  The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Savings Group meetings, the way Savings Groups conduct business and social cohesion in communities.

With the pandemic unyielding, the Government of Zambia announced measures to adapt to the ‘New Normal’ requiring people to wear face masks, sanitize and exercise social distancing in meetings.

With COVID-19, the Rural Finance Expansion Programme (RUFEP) has continued to support its implementing partners to ensure the financial inclusion agenda is not disrupted by the pandemic.

Under the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages (CBFIs) Window, RUFEP has continued to support the Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) to promote Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) Groups in rural Mkushi and Luano Districts of Central Province under the ‘New Normal’.

With support from RUFEP, ZRDF is mobilizing Savings Groups, building their capacity and linking them to formal financial service providers under the ‘New Normal’.

From the 15-18th June, 2020, a RUFEP Team visited SILC Groups promoted by ZRDF in rural Mkushi and Luano Districts to monitor implementation progress, assess adherence to the ‘New Normal’ health requirements and to document lessons learnt from project implementation.

Mrs. Edna Daka Tindwa

Mrs. Edna Daka Tindwa is a member of Hard Work SILC Group in Busa, Luano District, Chief Chikupili. Speaking during the field visit at Busa Primary School, Mrs. Tindwa disclosed that COVID-19 negatively affected the way SILC Groups conduct business as meetings were shortened and members were quickly dispersed after meetings.

Echoing the same sentiments, Matron Mutinta Habaalu narrated that it was difficult to do business after getting a loan from the SILC Group under the COVID-19 lock down as people were told to stay at home and avoid visitations.



RUFEP has partnered with the Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) to link 25 mature Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) Groups in rural Mkushi and Luano Districts of Central Province to formal Financial Service Providers (FSPs).

On the 30th September, 2019, RUFEP signed a grant agreement with ZRDF under the Community Based Financial Institutions Linkages (CBFIs) Window targeting to link 25 SILC Groups to formal FSPs.

By 2020, mid-June, 17 Groups were ready for linkage with Zanaco’s Village Banking Account and Kazang digital payments following capacity building trainings by Private Service Providers (PSPs).

Speaking during the field visits by the RUFEP team to monitor implementation progress and to document lessons learnt on 16th June, 2020, ZRDF Executive Director Brandy Mungaila said the trained groups were ready for the linkage with formal Financial Services Providers (FSPs).

ZRDF Executive Director Brandy Mungaila

Mr. Mungaila disclosed that by mid-June 2020, ZRDF had trained 29 field agents while 10 were ready to graduate to Private Service Providers (PSPs) following the training conducted to build their capacity.

He said ZRDF’s holistic approach focuses on four thematic areas which includes; Food Security and Livelihoods, Education Support, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Economic Empowerment.

Mr. Mungaila said ZRDF was also involved in Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) public awareness campaigns targeting schools, health centres and communities through SILC Groups in the two districts.

“Under Economic Empowerment, ZRDF is promoting and building capacity of SILC groups to improve livelihoods of rural communities particularly women. With the RUFEP funding, linked SILC Groups will also be able to instruct FSPs to make payments for individual members for agro-inputs to Agro dealers”, he said.

Mr. Mungaila added that under the Food Security and Livelihood Pillar, ZRDF was promoting crop diversification by small holder farmers to improve on their food security and to increase household incomes.

“While we encourage farmers to grow maize enough for household consumption, we promote growing of high value crops such as soya beans and cow peas which are much profitable to increase household incomes”, he said.

Mr. Austin Ntutuma-PSP Fiwila Area

And speaking during the field visit in Chilope Village in Fiwila area, Chief Shaibila in Luano rural district, Private Service Provider Austin Ntutuma said he was recruited and trained by ZRDF to form and train SILC Groups in the area.

In his welcoming remarks when ZRDF and RUFEP Team visited Chilope SILC Group in Chilope Village, Mr. Ntutuma disclosed that by mid-June 2020, he had formed and trained 34 SILC groups in the area while 10 SILC Groups were ready for a linkage with Zanaco.

“The training involved business skills, book keeping, constitution making and linkages with FSPs. We are also sensitizing SILC Groups on COVID-19”, he said.

In Kampelembe area, Chief Chikupili, Wilson Zimba, PSP disclosed that some mature SILC groups in his territory had shared-out about ZMW120, 000.00 which presents a security challenge with the amounts in the box especially towards the sharing-out period.

Mr. Zimba said three groups in the area were ready to open accounts with Zanaco to ensure their money was secure with the bank instead of keeping it in the box.

ZRDF assured the RUFEP team that the target of linking 25 SILC Groups with over 500 members will not only be achieved but exceeded by the end of the project.

Speaking on behalf of RUFEP after conducted field visits, RUFEP Knowledge Management Specialist Cephas Moonga commended ZRDF for the progress achieved in promoting, building capacity of SILC groups in Mkushi and Luano rural and linking mature groups to Zanaco.

Mr. Cephas Moonga-RUFEP Knowledge Management Specialist

“We conduct field visits to monitor progress by implementing partners and to document lessons learnt from projects by partners. We are happy to see progress by ZRDF in terms of linkages. It was interesting to hear testimonies from beneficiaries on the impact of Savings Groups on livelihoods which is helping to reduce rural household poverty,” Mr. Moonga said.

He added that with the Corona-Virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the field visit was also conducted to assess how the rural communities and SILC Groups were adapting to the ‘New Normal’ and adhering to health requirements such as wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitizing to protect themselves.