Excellence Pt 3: How do You Measure "Quality"?
I have recently had the pleaure of speaking with many SG practitioners about the question of Quality Savings Groups. I have been asking the question, “How do you measure quality in a Savings Group?” I got to do this while working on the SEEP “Do No Harm” principles - more on this is future posts.
Quality is an important question, because - let’s be frank here - quality varies enormously among different groups. Many are fine, safe places to save. Members follow the rules, come to meetings, and respect each other. The group follows safe practices - including meeting weekly, and not pressuring members to take loans they don’t want or need.
But other groups aren’t so happy. They have various issues, and sometimes members lose money, or the group breaks up in acrimony.
Can we tell which category the group is in - safe or risky, happy or unhappy? How can we measure that?
Lots of people told me they look at the standard MIS to assess group quality. “Fine”, I’d reply. “But which indicators do you look at?”
Almost everyone mentioned attendance, and I agree - high attendance is probably an indictor that a group is healthy. But - we know from experience that attendance is one of the indicators that is frequently exaggerrated in the MIS. In fact, it’s only in the best programs where that indicator is reported accurately - the result is that sometimes less good programs show higher attendance (because the trainers are making it up, and no one is checking) than the best programs (where people are reporting what actually occurred).
“But,” I’d ask, “what other indicators do you look at”? Many people would point to lending efficiency, the percent of the loan fund that is lent out. I would ask, “What % is an indicator of a strong group?” Almost everyone would say, “It depends”. Depends on what? This gets very murky, very fast.
So - let me ask YOU? How do YOU measure quality?
I have some ideas about this that I’ll be sharing soon.
For our American readers, (tomorrow is the American holiday of Thanksgiving), Thanks for being colleagues and readers and committed people doing good work!