SMDP South Africa

Our Final Workshop!

August 26 to September 6, 2019

The Sustainable Microfinance and Development Program comes to South Africa August 26 to September 6, in the final two-week workshop of the SMDP entirely devoted to Savings Groups. The SMDP South Africa will take place at the Redlands Hotel in Pietermaritzburg and is offered by the University of New Hampshire, hosted by SaveAct ( and delivered by VSL Associates and SaveAct 

The SMDP Savings Group (SG) courses are highly focused. Designed specifically for institutions and individuals who are committed to results, it is designed for people wanting to create efficient and effective SG programs, operating at low-cost and significant scale, leading to a long-term output in which groups spontaneously replicate at high quality.  

The course will provide participants with the latest tools necessary to design, implement, track and supervise the extent and quality of outreach.  For this reason it is very much hands-on and involves a mixture of classroom lectures, simulations and field visits to successful savings groups that have been running for several years.

  • Savings Groups: Management Information Systems
  • Savings Groups: Programme Design and Implementation Management
  • Plenary sessions on the latest Savings Groups learning and innovation
  • Structured field visits
  • Step-by-step guidance on field operations, focusing on group governance, products, and procedures
  • Introduction to the SAVIX website and the SAVIX MIS.  Hugh Allen of VSL Associates was the creator of SAVIX MIS and is teaching this course.

Hugh Allen, Founder, VSL Associates

Hugh Allen has worked in development since 1970, focusing exclusively for the last 20 years on Savings Groups (SGs). For thirteen years, he worked for CARE and was its chief technical advisor for small economic activity development in Africa. It was during this time that he first came across the Village Saving and Lending Association (VSLA) SG model and realized its potential.

These days, he works exclusively to promote its adoption by multi-sectoral development agencies and southern NGOs. He is a Fellow of the Carsey Institute for Public Policy and a long-term member of the faculty of University of New Hampshire’s Sustainable Microenterprise and Development Program.

He is the founder and CEO of VSL Associates ( and has been the driver and creator of the SAVIX and the SAVIX MIS, which is used worldwide by more than 1,000 institutions that promote SG programs to track and report on program performance.  He has published the most widely disseminated training manuals on SGs, and contributed to numerous journals on community-managed microfinance.

The Sustainable Microfinance and Development Program (SMDP) has been in operation since 1999, first as the Microenterprise and Development program at Southern New Hampshire University and then as the SMDP when the program came to the University of New Hampshire. Our first international workshop was held in Polokwane, South Africa in 2004 after five years of summer workshops in New Hampshire. Since our first workshop in June 1999 more than 2,500 students from over 100 nations have participated in our programs both face to face (in eight countries) and online. For the past ten years we have been provided a scholarship pool by the Mastercard Foundation of Toronto, ONT Canada through the Microfinance Scholars Programme which has helped us to make at least $2million in scholarship awards to more than 500 African practitioners.

To mark the final workshop of the SMDP we will hold a special commemorative dinner on the final night of the SMDP South Africa which all workshop participants are invited to attend.