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Economic Growth
Sub-Saharan Africa

Reinvigorating a savings/loan project in Mali with audio job aids

Solution: Digital Survey

In association with


Oxfam is a global charity that aims to eradicate poverty around the world. Their goal is improve livelihoods — from helping farmers improve their yield, to increasing access to clean water.

In Mali, Oxfam is working with savings groups to help stabilize household incomes by using savings to smooth over periods when income is low. This village savings and loan model was launched years ago to provide some financial education and products to people in rural areas who do not use formal banking.

The model has been adopted by many implementers who aim to increase household incomes in some of the most remote parts of the world.


Surveys sent to 600 field agents


Questions asked


Surveys completed


Savings groups engaged in agriculture


In 2015 the savings and loan program had become a bit dormant. Field agents were still engaging with savings groups, but since the departure of trainers and the end of the formal program implementation, the interactions had become infrequent.

Additionally, the savings groups were used as a delivery mechanism for additional development programming – such malaria awareness campaigns. Due to the remote nature of the work, and limited funds, regular in-person monitoring of savings and loans groups and their facilitators is challenging.

Viamo (via VOTO Mobile) partnered with Oxfam Mali to reconnect with field agents and gain a better understanding of how the groups were doing.

What we did

Working with Oxfam Mali, we optimized the survey instrument to maximize completion rates and attain the most information as possible from the field agents via mobile phone.

We tested SMS versus voice survey completion rates and hope to share these insights more broadly. The built in monitoring metrics will complement the data provided by the field agents in order to better understand the user in a
cost-effective way.


Within one day, Oxfam Mali was able to get a snapshot of what was happening in the field from an online dashboard displaying real-time data.

The data collected can now be stored and compared over time. Moreover, field agents have a simple way of communicating with the project management staff on a regular basis. We expect survey completion rates to increase as agents become more comfortable with the instrument and new mode of communication.

What we learned

Communication with field agents can be simplified using a feature phone. What was once a costly and time- consuming endeavor is now quick and cheap.

Our experience with Oxfam Mali demonstrates a clear use case for communication with field staff. Typically, partners aim to reach project beneficiaries through our platform, but this case demonstrates the effectiveness and affordability of engaging with field staff on a regular basis.


Increasing our number of partners in Mali will also allow us to expand our network.

We are currently exploring ways to deliver more audio job aids — educational or “refresher” materials — to frontline field workers to improve their efficacy and broaden their role within the community.

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