Population Council

Safe and Smart Savings Program





Kenya and Uganda

Age Level of Students Participating 

Age 10-19

Number of Students Participating per Year

Pilot reached over 12,000 girls in Uganda and Kenya

Year Organization Began

The project began in 2008.

Relationship to the public education system

Project implemented outside of public education system (some of students in the program are out-of-school children)

Organization’s Vision and Mission

As part of the Population Council’s focus on improving the wellbeing and reproductive health of the most vulnerable people around the world, the Safe and Smart Savings is a program to help adolescent girls build assets, support networks, and savings in order to break the grip of poverty. 

Brief Description of Program Activities

The program consists of three main activities:

  1. Weekly group meetings with their savings group and a trained same-sex mentor in a safe space. The pilot for this program lasted one year. Groups were built on the Population Council’s safe spaces model, which includes: (a) a physical safe space where girls can meet regularly in their community, (b) a group of same-sex friends their age living in the same community, and (c) a mentor who is a young woman from the community who meets with the girls regularly. During group meetings, girls conducted savings activities and received training on financial education and health. Group meetings were supplemented with fun days and parents meetings.

  2. 16 sessions of training on financial education, as part of a life skills curriculum that also includes sexual and reproductive health. Since many impoverished females in Kenya and Uganda do not have the skills or opportunities for financial independence, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that endanger their health or increase their likelihood for early marriage or pregnancy. This program adopts a holistic focus on financial literacy as a key component for making responsible and more empowered choices. Financial education topics include planning for the future, having savings goals, making savings plans, controlling spending, knowing the difference between needs and wants, financial negotiations, and resolving conflicts about money.

  3. Training on how to maintain an individual savings account at a local bank

Program Content: Intrapersonal Competencies

Participants learn how to be more responsible for their finances, which leads to greater financial independence and greater prevention of risky lifestyle and health behaviors. 

Competencies practiced include self-regulation, responsibility, initiative, health regulation, financial self-efficacy, career orientation and goal orientation

Program Content: Interpersonal Competencies

Young women interact in groups, build support networks and learn how to resolve conflicts related to use of money. 

Competencies learned include communication, collaboration, trust, cooperation and coordination, mentorship, assertive conflict resolution, and negotiation.

Program Content: Cognitive Competencies

Analysis and decision-making: development of accurate knowledge of finances, HIV and reproductive health

Program Content: Attitudes and Values

Financial self-sufficiency, decreased inclination to engage in risky sexual behaviors, understanding of personal rights and responsibilities

Program Content: Pedagogy/Active Engagement of Students

Group meetings, discussions of topics related to financial responsibility, developing support systems with other females, receiving and offering mentorship on conflict resolution and negotiation to avoid risky situations and behaviors, practicing savings activities, meetings with family members.

Additional Notes

At the end of the pilot program, girls reported that they had made new friends, a safe space to meet with friends, and a female mentor they could go to for guidance. Girls who participated in the program showed significant improvements in access to emergency resources, increased mobility and increased independence. They were also significantly more likely than other girls to have financial goals and accurate financial knowledge. 

This model builds girls’ social and health assets by enabling them to make friends, form social relationships and expand their social networks. At endline, at least half of girls stated that they had made a new friend within the previous year, that they had a safe place to meet their friends outside of school or a friend’s house, and that they had a female mentor in their community other than a parent or teacher. Girls mentioned in the qualitative data that they valued the ability to discuss issues with their mentors and receive guidance and counseling. 

Reference List

1All information for this organizational profile come from Population Council’s website, the 2013 evaluation report for the Safe and Smart Savings Program and a phone interview with the Program Manager that took place in May 2016. 

Prepared by

Ashim Shanker