Self Help Groups Create Resilience for Women Members and Their Families

Earlier this year, Code Innovation travelled to rural Kongwa District in central Tanzania to visit some of the facilitators and Self Help Group members most experienced in using our digital Self Help Group platform.

This week, we’ll share a series of short videos that explore how Self Help Group (SHG) programming is a transformational and trend-setting approach to ending poverty. We’ll also highlight how our SHG platform is helping facilitators scale up their programs with quality.

We’ll begin with a focus on building resilience and creating social transformation at the community level. We’ll highlight the gains to women in SHGs by exploring their progress towards financial independence and their efforts towards social empowerment, and then focus on the impact that the SHG platform is starting to have on SHG facilitators and their members.

First, we’ll explore how Self Help Groups bring added resilience to the lives of their members. As the risks from climate change and uncertainties continues to rise, developing networks of resilience is a key coping strategy for women on the lowest poverty level, whose families are often depending on them for basic needs.

The women in these videos have been in Self Help Groups in rural Tanzania for up to five years already. Here, they share how their participation in SHGs has made their households more secure and also given them the confidence to plan for bigger business and better livelihoods.


Self Help Groups routinely target the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of a village or a neighbourhood for membership —the people who are struggling most to meet their basic needs.

When these people come together and begin to pool their resources and begin to learn together, new opportunities open up. Their joint savings might be enough to help one member buy a few chickens to start a microbusiness selling eggs. Or they might be able to purchase something together in bulk, that they sell in small portions for a mark up that enriches the group.

These business successes (and failures) offer the group an open and transparent way to understand the dynamics of markets and commerce.

Groups also typically set money aside to serve as insurance fund for unfortunate events that might usually drive a member deeper into poverty: for example emergency medical expenses or funeral expenses for a family member.

Elie Calhoun, Principal at Code Innovation, says, “As Self Help Groups are studied more in the coming years, we’re likely to see that the insurance that these groups provide to members is one of the key reasons why groups continue to meet.”

The oldest Self Help Groups are in India and have been meeting for more than three decades, but the SHG model is still not well-known outside of the savings group sector.

We hope you find this exploration of our work interesting. If you’re already working with savings groups or SHGs in your work and you’d like to learn more about the platform, visit

Stay tuned for our next video, where we’ll be sharing about how SHGs transform the social landscape by bringing women together in collaborative new ways.

Nathaniel Calhoun