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Bruxelles, le 9 septembre

A conference dedicated to the benefits of micro-savings was held on 9 and 10

September in Brussels. Micro-savings can be described as savings made by lowincome

or vulnerable people. For the authors of the study, based on evidence

from pilot projects in France, Belgium and Hungary, access and use of

appropriate savings products for every citizen in Europe can prevent

overindebtedness and improve financial and social inclusion in the wider

economy and society. Therefore, it is important to encourage Member States to

develop appropriate tools and partnerships that work as incentives to save for

vulnerable people.

The sims project

In 2011, three experiments were implemented in Belgium, Hungary and France1, to

promote savings through financial education and / or financial incentive programmes

among low-income people. The SIMS (Social Innovation in Micro-Savings) project is

funded by the European Commission under the PROGRESS programme in 2010.

The 3 pilot experiments targeted different populations and included various actions with

low-income households and/or young people. In Belgium and Hungary, the pilot projects

implied a collective or individual saving programme combined with a matched saving

programme. A project in Hungary allowed the possibility to grant loans. In France, the

experiment does not include a saving programme but four financial education training

sessions. In whole, 670 people participated in these three projects.

The results vary from country to country according to the set up in each pilot project. A

positive impact on saving behaviours is shown during the programme in Belgium and in

Hungary. The impact of the programme on budgetary skills was very positive in Belgium

and somewhat more limited in France. At the end of the pilot experiments, beneficiaries in

all three countries seemed more careful towards credit and more conscious of the potential

risk of borrowing. The programme has a positive effect on social inclusion in Hungary and


1 Réseau Financement Alternatif (BE), Autonomia Foundation (HU), Agence nouvelle des solidarités actives (FR), Microfinance Center


Micro-savings to fight financial exclusion

Bruxelles, le 9 septembre

Pilot project experiment results show that, when given access to appropriate incentives and

tools, personal and structural obstacles can be overcome, which means that lowincome

people can and do save.

Why do savings matter?

A lack of savings is a major cause of financial insecurity which makes households extremely

vulnerable, in particular when faced with life’s difficulties. On the contrary, savings provide

income stability in times of hardship and allow people to make life changing choices and

take risks, like considering alternative education or employment and support the upward

social and economic mobility in the longer term.

According to the SILC (Statistics on Income and Living Conditions), material deprivation

indicators for the Eu27 countries, the at-risk-of-poverty rate (17%) is half that of the

inability to deal with unforeseen expenses (34%), which suggests that a significant

proportion of households in Europe with income above the poverty threshold still do not

have any savings.

If we consider that saving is a reality, or could become one for a small proportion of the

households whose income is either below or above the poverty threshold, this suggests

that a significant proportion of European citizens could benefit from appropriate savings

incentives and policies designed to eliminate personal and structural obstacles. Therefore, a

policy strategy based on implementing a set of actions to ensure access and use of

appropriate savings products for every citizen in Europe is necessary.

Such studies show that low-income people are able to save and savings has a positive

effect in the fight against overindebtedness. The EU and the States Members should

develop or adapt existing funding and public guarantee schemes, such as ESF (European

Social Fund), to allow innovative tools & partnerships. They must adapt incentives to

promote savings for vulnerable people (develop useful products, provide public guarantee

funds, support financial education programmes). Finally, they should also encourage

networking between all stakeholders involved in financial inclusion issues, savings

promotion and financial education to build knowledge and exchange of best practices on

these issues.

Micro-savings is the expertise of one of EFIN's (European Financial Inclusion Network)

working group. EFIN is a coalition of European stakeholders (institutions and individuals)

involved in financial inclusion. It bases its actions upon the objective to tackle financial

exclusion which refers to ”a process whereby people encounter difficulties accessing and/or

Bruxelles, le 9 septembre

using financial services and products in the mainstream market that are appropriate to

their needs and enable them to lead a normal social life in the society in which they



Social Innovation in Micro-Savings in Europe - Executive summary (Micro-Savings Pilot

Experiments Results and Policy Recommendations)


Press contact

Laurence Roland - RFA

0032 2 340 08 65 -