Knowledge management study from Savings and Credit Groups in Development Projects in South Asia (Bangladesh and India)

1.  Background of the knowledge management study for the sponsoring organisation


This knowledge management initiative is commissioned by Secours Catholique – Caritas France (SCCF), whose mission is to support the most vulnerable populations. Created in 1946, the association is active throughout mainland France and French overseas territories, while also offering support in more than 70 countries and regions, in cooperation with the worldwide Caritas Internationalis network and other Civil Society Organizations. SCCF addresses all sources of poverty, inequality and exclusion. It raises awareness among authorities and the general public, and puts forth lasting solutions. All SCCF initiatives are grounded in the principles of beneficiary involvement and capacity-building for all as a catalyst for collective action. It aims at transforming society to reach social justice for all, by contributing to fighting the socio-environmental crisis.


For many years, SCCF has been actively supporting partners in Bangladesh and in India, implementing or supporting development projects, in rural and/or urban areas.


Savings and credit groups (SCG) are widely used in South Asia to promote access to micro-credit for isolated or excluded populations from the banking system. It is used by the governments, NGOs and others worldwide. These groups are considered as an important institution at local level. They are known as Cooperative Credit Union and Cooperative Credit Union Federation in Bangladesh, and Self-Help Group and SHG Federation in India.


Many associations started promoting SCG and facilitated bank linkages, to help vulnerable people access credit, but also further to support development of alternative livelihoods and empower women.


SCG may have developed different operation mode:

  • Group’s funds consisting solely of the savings of the members
  • Group’s funds made up of group savings with a contribution from the association that accompanies the group
  • Loans to the group members only or to other people outside the group, often at higher interest rate
  • Loans to finance individual or collective group activities
  • Loans of different scales for different purposes, ranging from support to life and family issues to support to capital or equipment investment
  • Groups / unions access or not bank loans (direct access, access through facilitation)
  • Saving and credit activity is seen as an the main and only aim of the group or goes with a community development approach
  • Groups become independent / self-reliant and start paying for services
  • Groups move to become independent entities and start enterprises to increase their income


The work done with the SCG has proven its effectiveness but, whether in Bangladesh or in India, numerous challenges are pointed out:

  • The process of groups’ empowerment may took long time: some groups have been accompanied by CSOs for more than 15 years
  • Groups that are no longer supported slowly disappear
  • The end of the groups’ support is not anticipated or planned, there is no clear exit strategy
  • Ending the support may be technically/legally difficult when the supporting organization has financially contributed to the capital of the group (what to do with the sum invested and how to proceed with the interests earned?)
  • Difficulties may arise if the groups change of scale and goals over the years
  • Difficulties of the group and/or the accompanying organization to move from the Savings and Credit activity.







2.  Participating partners


SCCF partners in India and in Bangladesh are using or have used the SCG in their projects.

Balasore Social Service Society (BSSS)

Balasore Social Service Society is an organization registered under Societies’ Registration Act XXI of 1860 on 24th October 1992 at IGR, Cuttack, Odisha, with Regd No: – 19342/61 of 1992-93. BSSS is the development wing of the Diocese of Balasore and thus operates under the ambit of Diocesan policies and framework. The geographical spread of Diocese covers four administrative districts of Odisha i.e. Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj & Keonjhar and thus BSSS can also operate in these 4 districts only.


BSSS Vision is a transformed society where love, peace and justice prevail.


BSSS Mission is to facilitate and enable the poor and marginalized to address illiteracy, marginalization, poverty, diseases and emergencies by ensuring quality education, rights & entitlements, adequate livelihood, access to health services and to reduce disaster risk for sustainable human development.


Caritas Bangladesh (CB)

Caritas Bangladesh is registered with the Department of Social Welfare Services, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka vide their Regd. No. DSW/FDO/R-009, dated April 22, 1981 to receive foreign donation under the foreign donation Regulation act of 1978. It is a national, non-Governmental, non-profitable, non-political development Organization established by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh in order to promote and ensure the Gospel values and social teachings of the Catholic Church, which are the guiding principles for Caritas Bangladesh.


CB vision is a society, which embraces the values of freedom and justice, peace and forgiveness, allowing all to live as a communion and community of mutual love and respect.


CB mission is to strive to become a partner of people – especially the poor and marginalized, with equal respect for all – to attain integral development, to live a truly human life in dignity and to serve others responsibly.


Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS)


Indo-Global Social Service Society is an organization registered under the Society Registration Act of 1860 (Reg. N° S-1787 of 1961-62, 18-08-2004) having its headquarters in Institutional Area, 28, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110003, India.


IGSSS is a non-profit organisation working with the mandate for a humane social order based on truth, justice, freedom and equity. Established in 1960, IGSSS works for development, capacity building and enlightenment of the vulnerable communities across the country for their effective participation in development.


IGSSS Vision is to help establish a humane social order based on equity, freedom and justice in which human rights and the dignity if every individual is upheld.


IGSSS Mission is to implement and support quality development programs across India to empower individuals and communities belonging to the poor, marginalized & vulnerable sections of the society with special focus on women and children.



Aaina is an organization founded in 1998 and registered on January 15,1999, Regd No 20609/159/1008-99.

Aaina has been working extensively through the CBR approach in the state of Odisha, covering the rural and tribal population at one end and professionals, administrative agencies, government officials and legislators at the other end, facilitating formation of children’s clubs where children act as change agents, DPOs and SHGs at village level are exemplary sustainable structures and instances empowered children, women and people with disability. Aaina works at micro and macro level to create awareness and facilitate in bringing social change around theme areas.


Aaina envisages an inclusive society where each person has an identity, independence and exercises

his/her rights with dignity and equality especially persons with disability, women, children, elderly, ultra poor and other socially excluded groups.


Aaina’s mission is to:

– commit to the realization of the human rights of persons with disability and elderly persons through appropriate participatory program interventions leading to an inclusive society. It further strives to establish a centre of excellence on research, training and documentation

– commit to facilitate the realization of the rights of children through appropriate participatory program interventions, leading to a non-discriminatory society

– promote gender equality and justice and empowerment of women in all spheres of life by facilitating appropriate mechanisms to ensure their rights, identity, dignity and independence

– actively influence policy through strategic advocacy mechanism that incorporates people centred advocacy

– respond to the disaster situations upholding the perspective of human rights.



3.  Knowledge management study project

3.1 Knowledge management challenges


Transforming experiences (actions, personal history, cases…) into knowledge to be shared.

  • Share: Tap into the knowledge and know-how developed while accompanying groups to ensure that the methodologies, strategies, tools and practices developed can be shared.
  • Strengthen the capacities: Understand the successes and failures with a view to replicating the former and avoiding the latter.
  • Innovate and bring about change: Improve work practices and processes to be implemented in the future.

3.2 Expectations of participating organisations


From the above-mentioned observations and challenges, it seems relevant to conduct a knowledge management study to identify and document the good practices of the partners, in terms of:

  • formation and follow-up of the SCG and/or federations / unions,
  • support to and training of the SCG and/or federations / unions,
  • empowerment (autonomy, sustainability) of the SCG and federations / unions
  • independence of the groups and self-reliance from the NGO


This knowledge management study is expected to identify best methodologies and practices, as well as tools and indicators favouring the success of the process, and also challenges faced and how they were overcome, with a view to sharing experiences and enhancing individual and collective efficiency, identifying and sharing innovations generated thorough SCG accompaniment. Deliverables must make it possible to share results and lessons learned from the partners’ different experiences.

The initiative looks to take advantage of the experience accumulated over the past and present operations, transforming individual (staff) and collective (SCG, accompanying organizations) experiences into shareable knowledge.

3.3 Objectives of the study


The objectives of the study are to learn from the partners’ and accompanied SCG’s experiences to:

  • formalize innovative and/or successful practices and working methods developed by the partners,
  • draw lessons learned,
  • share the acquired experience,
  • promote groups autonomy and their self-reliance,
  • disseminate and replicate (or avoid), the practices and experiences analysed.


3.4 Knowledge management study aims


This knowledge management study will focus on the milestones, main steps and methodologies, with a permanent focus on how the final goal of group’s autonomy and self-reliance is integrated or not from the beginning. It will identify best practices in terms of reaching SCG autonomy and self-reliance (knowledge and know-how, soft skills…).

It will help to design tools and practical and concrete guidelines that could be shared, replicated and disseminated.


This study does not aim to be a new study on group animation’s principles, but it aims to objectify the process: How do we know when a SCG is autonomous / self-reliant? How do we withdraw from a SCG in order that it remains solid and operating in the future?


3.5 Areas of focus to be addressed during the roll-out of the knowledge management initiative


The study should capture the knowledge and practices in different fields, and help the partners in identifying best practices and lessons learnt in the field of:


Financial sustainability


  • Common trends of savings among the groups
  • Common saving and credit system
  • The linkages that have been built with government, semi-government, private institutions particularly financial institutions contributing to the financial sustainability of these groups?
  • Groups’ use of linkages to strengthen their self-help capacities?
  • Impact of the bank linkages and its availability and accessibility
  • Process adopted by the groups to mitigate any default of loans to its members
  • Management of the debt servicing to external lenders?
  • Different ways of investing the loans
  • Sustainable and prevalent income generation activities


Organisational sustainability


  • Capacity of groups’ planning process and future visioning
  • Process of leadership and leadership development
  • Development of networks and linkages between SCGs and other institutions
  • Decision-making power of female SCG members in their families
  • Influential power of SCGs on village/community affairs
  • Major contributing factors / Major preventing factors

Focus on methodologies and the collective learning process


  • Since the start of the groups’ support, how has capacity-building of the SCG contributed to enhancing the sustainability / self-reliance of the groups?
  • Are groups’ experiences and knowledge been shared and how have these exchanges contributed to developing the SCG?
  • How the organization’s work, tools and methodologies were improved?
  • What innovative methods have been used to support the groups, ensuring they generate tangible results and effects?
  • Addressing larger social issues- Is it our expectation or are the groups really interested in social engineering process of larger society?



Gender issue


  • How the gender issue are taken into account, analysed and integrated to the process (is there any increase of workload of women because of SHG? Did women really become self-help or they still depend of male members for their financial needs?)



In their bids, consultants are requested to reformulate and organise questions for knowledge management. They should clearly explain how they propose to address these areas of focus, based on their understanding of the nature, issues and objectives of knowledge management as outlined elsewhere.


3.6 Methodology of the knowledge management study


Consultant is requested to:

  • Conduct a review of the existing documents, provided by the participating organizations.
  • Propose frameworks for interviews or any other methodological tool serving to identify and enrich the experiences of the partners and the SCG they support / have supported.
  • Propose a methodology to select sampling – identify the SCG and SCG members to be involved in the process (new groups, old groups, groups no more supported, individuals…)
  • Design and draft best practice sheets for each partner addressing the topics as they are mentioned in these Terms of Reference.
  • Collect information on the field (partners’ offices and projects sites: 1 visit in Bangladesh, visits in India would be ideally clustered as several partners are operating in the same State, Odisha).
  • Draft an interim report after the field visits to share about the information collected and first analysis (regarding each partner, sharing the experience of the groups, and also highlighting what is common and what is specific)
  • Design and facilitate a knowledge management workshop bringing together all participating partners (date and place to be decided).

A 4-day workshop intended to:

  • ensure feedback and appropriation of the interim report by the partners
  • propose drafts for the deliverables to be discussed, amended, and developed during the workshop, such as a common framework for a practical guide, technical sheets, selected tools/methodologies, etc
  • facilitate the agreement on a road map for the next steps to be done (design of the deliverables, contents of the deliverables, roles and tasks of the participating partners…)
  • Draft a full narrative report and an executive report on the course of the knowledge management study.



4. Knowledge management contributors


“Contributor” refers to persons involved in the knowledge management study and having supported SCG or being part of SCG, who can provide experience and practices to enrich the knowledge management process.


Within partner organisations:

  • Senior team in HQ (according to their level of involvement in the support’s process of the groups and the knowledge management process within the organisation)
  • Knowledge manager if any
  • Field staff in direct relationship with the communities and SCG

Among the beneficiaries:

  • SCG leaders
  • Federation/Union members
  • SCG members


SCG representatives should be selected among:

  • the new groups, in order to capture information about the process from its initial stage,
  • the 3 to 4 years old groups, in order to capture ideas and examples from people having enough knowledge and experience to share
  • the former supported SCG, in order to capture information on the post-support period


Asia / Eastern Europe desk officers of SCCF International Advocacy and Action Division will participate as coordinators and facilitators of the knowledge management study process. They will be in close relationship with the consultant and the partners.



5. Expected deliverables


It will be expected from the consultant to send to SCCF country/partners report (from field visits) and to a report on the course of the knowledge management study in itself.


Apart from that, the study could lead to the production of deliverables, such as:


  • a full narrative report on the practices (actions) and experiences (stakeholders own experience), including an executive summary on the course of the knowledge management study
  • a practical guide with important steps and milestones related to the support, the follow-up and monitoring, and the withdrawal process of/from a SCG
  • executive sheets documenting and organizing identified good practices and lessons learnt (for instance the key moments in the support process, inflection points and/or sidesteps having allowed progress, etc.); a comparative approach taking into account the typology of the SCG could be included if relevant. Main challenges must be identified in order to examine and understand how they have been overcame or by-passed.
  • presentation of tools like grid, check-list, tips, or questionnaire listing key elements to be considered to ensure a the best possible empowerment of the SCG, for the use of partners and Asia Desk


The study and deliverables could be used further by the partners wishing to define their intervention model more precisely and sharpen the used methodology, document their knowledge and practices, to keep an institutional memory of what is done (vs operational memory at the field level) and thus limit the effects of the turn-over.


At the level of Asia Desk, it would create a shared understanding of the dynamics of the different SCG models, as well as the basis for a deeper analysis of partners’ intervention. It could be useful to disseminate partners’ best practices among other partners and any interested organisation. It could also serve as guidelines for further support.


All final products must be approved by the SCCF and participating partners.

The full report and deliverables will be published and disseminated within SCCF, participating partners and among other interested organisations.


English is the working language for all tools to be produced.



Taking into account the items mentioned above, the consultants are requested to include detailed proposals in their bids concerning the methodology they intend to implement (steps in the knowledge management process, people to be consulted, meetings and feedback, methodology for collecting and analysing information, documents produced). Consultants’ bids should also include a proposal for dividing the total number of working days among the different phases of the knowledge management initiative (and possibly among the various consultants if a team of consultants is proposed). If a team of consultants is proposed, they should specify their prior experience working together, how they intend to coordinate during the project, and highlight their complementarity with regard to the work requested.


6. End recipients of knowledge management insight


Circle 1. Participating partners supporting or having supported SCG and having experience and knowledge to share

Circle 2. SCCF Asia and Eastern Europe Department, International Action and Advocacy Division

Circle 3. Other recipients: partners developing or supporting through local partners similar process in Asian countries


7. Knowledge management tentative timeline


This schedule is subject to modification to take into account the local constraints and partners’ agenda

  • January 2020 Publication of the call for expressions of interest;
  • February 15, 2020 Reception of bids;
  • Mid-March 2020 Selection of the consultant and signature of contract;
  • March 2020 Start of assignment;
  • April – June 2020 Knowledge management study (desk-based activity, field visits, workshop);
  • June – August 2020 Publication of knowledge management deliverables;
  • August – September 2020 Dissemination of the deliverables.



Consultants are expected to propose a timeline in their bid. This timeline should take account of the items specified above.

8.  Skills required for consultants


  • Significant experience in knowledge management;
  • Suitable experience in the field of cooperation and international solidarity;
  • Technical expertise in the field of Savings and Credit Groups support;
  • Suitable project coordination, management and monitoring experience;
  • Experience in the relevant geographic area would be appreciated;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Superior writing skills for reports and copy;
  • Excellent command of English required.

9.  How to apply

Consultants are requested to include in their bids a detailed budget

proposal including all taxes, taking account of the items specified above, and indicating the proposed breakdown of days worked by the consultant (or consultants if a team is proposed) during the various phases of the process. This breakdown should reflect the methodology proposed.

All bid (technical + honoraria + consultants resumes) must be sent before February, 15th to :

Please note that although each proposal is taken into full consideration, only selected candidates will be contacted.

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