Savings Groups (SGs) are community-managed groups typically of 15-30 people who get together regularly to save and eventually borrow if they choose to. SGs are successful in large part because they depend on commitment savings: members support each other in achieving their financial goals through saving regularly. Also, a well-functioning Savings Group can be a good platform for introducing new ideas in health, agriculture, solar lighting, or many other areas to the members. Here's a short primer on informal finance by Kim Wilson (and me? I see my name on it. Hm...) and the classic introduction to savings groups: Savings Groups: What are they? by Hugh Allen and David Panetta. Both documents are solid, but both are aging and ready for an update.
Savings Groups are easy to form and easy to train. There are different approaches to forming and training groups. Some assume that you have a donor somewhere and a budget to spend, and you will have staff people mobilizing people to form groups, and then visiting those groups regularly over a long period to train and mentor them. To find out about these approaches, scroll down to SG Manuals and Materials.
But, if you simply want to form groups yourself or with a few other people, and you don't have a lot of money to spend, then go to Savings Revolution's sister site, Start Your Savings Group dot com. This site is designed to be simple, and it has everything you need.
If you are thinking of including SGs in a program that does other things, like agriculture or health, scroll down to Combining Savings Groups and Other Activities. Finally, if you are interested in encouraging relations between SGs and banks or MFIs or SACCOs, then you might want to start with this short paper that will help you think clearly about the different options. Then, read the post below called Promoting Relations between Savings Groups and Financial Service Providers.
These are our recommendations - but of course think for yourself and see what other people say. Start with these, and then be sure to read the section on Protecting Savings Groups and their Members.