Sparkassenstiftung and World Savings Day: Disseminating a successful model worldwide

Widely regarded as really smart savers, Germans will of course again be celebrating this year’s World Savings Day on 30 October in a big way! But the WSD concept extends far beyond regional boundaries.

As its name implies, World Savings Day was conceived to promote and disseminate the concept of savings on a global scale. Its aim is to educate people of all nationalities about the importance of saving for the future. Quite simply: saving is a reliable way for people to build a secure future and prepare for the unexpected.

Since World Savings Day mirrors its own mission’s objectives, Germany’s Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation has embraced this event as part of its efforts to foster financial inclusion in its project countries around the globe. However, different countries have different customs – and thus different saving cultures, too. For example, while Germans have their piggy banks, the Armenians have their ladybirds, the Vietnamese their buffaloes and the Rwandans their wooden chests.

To mark this year’s World Savings Day, we are organising an online event featuring these and many other containers that serve the same purpose as the German piggy bank.

What’s more, this year we are offering you an opportunity to actually see the many different types of money boxes first hand!

Coinciding with World Savings Day 2018, the Sparkasse Südholstein is presiding over an exhibition of the Sparkassenstiftung’s money box collection. The exhibits will first be on show in its main branch office in Neumünster (30 October to 09 November), before moving to the main offices in Pinneberg (13 to 20 November) and Bad Segeberg (22 to 30 November) respectively. Besides showcasing various devices used for saving and storing money around the world, the exhibition also includes a selection of photographic impressions featuring Sparkassenstiftung’s work. If you are not able to make it to the exhibition in person, you can also click here to see the photos from our ‘Development Money’ series.


Azerbaijan – Savings Book
Money boxes are often simply a souvenir of a foreign country. For the producers of these travel mementos, they are also a source of income. The Azeri ‘savings book’ shown here was made by a manufacturer of household goods and ceramics. Thanks to several loans from the German-Azerbaijanian Fund, this producer has been able to build up and slowly enlarge his company. This money box thus also represents a positive outcome of Sparkassenstiftung’s project work.
Azerbaijan – Lady Bird
Saving is not necessarily considered a major virtue in Azerbaijan. However, on delving deeper, it is not uncommon to hear stories of market women who hide their belongings in their underskirts. And in the west of the country empty bottles are put to new use as receptacles for collecting small Kopek coins. In the Soviet era people only needed to make a few twists and turns to transform tin cans into money boxes. Today money boxes are a highly popular present for Azeri children – like the charming lady bird shown in the photograph with two words telling people exactly what to do: ‘Give money!’
Bhutan – Bambus Stick
In Bhutan money boxes are made from materials that are native to the region. Bamboo is mostly found in the lowlands on the border with India. The rest of the country is too high for it to grow in. The only way to get to the money inside is to break the stick. This money box – which is mostly used by children – originated in an area that is currently piloting a branch office of the up-and-coming MFI.
China – Golden Pig
As in Germany, the pig was long regarded as the epitome of prosperity and good fortune in China. Nowadays, however, these attributes are associated with the colour gold. People with a golden piggy bank are thus thought to be twice as prosperous – and hopefully twice as lucky, too.
Democratic Republic of the Congo – Savings Basket
Many people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo keep their savings at home. But it only takes a fire or a break-in or a moment of weakness faced with the temptation of so much money and everything is gone. The ‘savings basket’ shown in the photo illustrates this risk. It has a lid that cannot be secured properly and so the money is always within reach. Sparkassenstiftung’s successful campaign to mark World Savings Day was designed to encourage people to bring their money to a bank where it would be kept safely and earn interest at the same time.
Germany – Piggy Bank
In Germany, the piggy bank is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In days gone by, pigs were kept and fattened up to provide the family with a source of nourishment at some later point in time. Consequently, anyone who had plenty of pigs was considered fortunate. This makes the pig a perfect symbol for saving towards a secure future. Everyone – young and old – knows what this widely used symbol means.
France – Squirrel
In France, savings banks use the squirrel as their symbol. This has to do with the squirrel’s habit of busily collecting and storing supplies to ensure it has plenty of food to fall back on at all times. Over the years, the symbol has taken on a more abstract form. But it continues to embody the spirit of saving and making provisions for the future.
Kyrgyzstan – Yurt
On introducing World Savings Day in 2015, Kyrgyzstan also unveiled its national savings symbol: the yurt. This dwelling is typical of the Kyrgyz people's culture and way of life and symbolises protection, safety and security.
Madagascar – Rattle
In Madagascar people hide their savings in various places. Quite frequently people bury their money in a hole underground. Our partner, CEM, has enjoyed its customers’ trust for nearly 100 years now and can look back on a long-standing savings tradition based on savings books. For many people in Madagascar, especially those who live in rural areas, CEM’s branch offices are simply out of reach. The savings container shown here – or ‘tirili’ as it is called in Madagascar – is actually a musical instrument (rattle) that has been put to other use. In fact, it is customary to put money in bamboo tubes for safekeeping, for presenting it to someone as a gift or for hiding.
Mongolia – Camel
Known for its extremely economical and efficient use of water, the camel embodies properties that are very typical of the savings and stockpiling process. Mongolia chose the camel as its national savings symbol in 2017, the year it first celebrated World Savings Day.
Rwanda – Money Box
Financial literacy is an important subject in Rwandan schools, too. Sparkassenstiftung, working in cooperation with the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR), has provided 300 teachers with materials they can use to educate pupils about saving, including money boxes that were specially made for this purpose by Rwandan craftsmen. All the pupils in the class put money in the box, but only one pupil and the teacher have a key to it. The money saved is eventually paid onto a savings account. Within the space of just four months, this has led to almost 12,000 pupils embarking on their very first savings experience.
Tanzania – Savings Automobile
Tanzania has seen massive improvements in the way money is handled. Mobile banking now facilitates cashless transactions and even makes it possible for people living in remote villages to save. Nevertheless, money boxes continue to be used to save money for children and as a way of giving them a present. The picture shows a ‘savings automobile’, which is a popular means of giving children money as a present and of encouraging them to save. In Tanzania these vehicles are crafted artfully from old beer and lemonade cans. They make good toys and collector’s items and – as in this case – storage containers for small amounts of money.
China – Clay Puman
In China people have been saving for thousands of years. Indeed, clay money boxes were already being made here hundreds of years ago. These are called ‘puman’ and to access the money inside, the box first has to be broken open. This kind of savings device is still very popular today and therefore still used in its traditional form – or in the form of pigs, cats, dragons and many other shapes and designs.
Indonesia – Garuda Eagle
In Indonesia people really only ever pay or save with notes. The money box shown here has a Garuda on it – Indonesia’s national emblem. The Garuda eagle in the country’s coat of arms has 17 flight feathers and eight tail feathers which symbolise 17 August 1945, Indonesia’s Independence Day. A Garuda is a mythical bird that takes on various forms in different cultures, ranging from a bird-like creature to a winged human.
Philippines – Savings House
The ‘savings house’ shown here was developed by CARD Rural Bank for its young customers. The money box made of thick cardboard only has to be purchased once. As soon as they have filled it up, savers can swop it for an empty one. The coins saved are not meant to rest idle for too long in the money box, but are to be put back into circulation. That is why the money box is so small, as it ensures savers return them to the bank at regular intervals. It is made in the shape of a house to symbolise the entire family – all of whom are encouraged to join in and save.
Indonesia – Savings Hen
In Indonesia it is not customary for people to save, which is why money boxes are not used much. People tend to use what they have when they have it – indeed private consumption accounts for some 70% of Indonesian GDP. Anyone who wants to save for the future invests in a hen. If times get rough, the hen can either be sold or eaten. This can also be done quite well with the ‘savings hen’ shown here.
Uzbekistan – Clay Aksakal
The money-box tradition is relatively unknown in Uzbekistan and hence not very wide spread. Disposable income is often kept at home in trunks or kitchen storage jars. This money box was designed together with our Uzbek partners within the scope of the Financial Sector Development Project. Handmade by a local microentrepreneur, it features a water melon – a symbol of wealth and prosperity – and an ‘aksakal’ (wise old man), a much revered figure in Uzbekistan.
Vietnam – Water Buffalo
Water buffaloes are typical domestic animals in rural and mountainous areas in Vietnam, where they take the place of tractors and represent considerable wealth for the poor. A water buffalo is also a good investment. And children are often given the task of taking care of them. People born in the year of the buffalo are considered to be hard working and very patient. The buffalo is a strong animal and so, in symbolic terms, is good for safeguarding money.
Cambodia – Clay Konchrukr
Traditionally many rural Cambodians hide their hard-earned money at home – under their pillow, in a rice sack or somewhere else in the house. Instead of bringing their money to a bank, they buy jewellery or gold. Nowadays children are encouraged to save in a ‘konchrukr’, a clay container that comes in many different forms, like that of an elephant. Asian elephants are readily tamed and are therefore used as a working animal in Cambodia. The destruction of their natural habit also makes them an endangered species.
Colombia – Piggy Bank
This money box is not as it would seem. Really it is intended to offer temporary relief for a wallet or purse and not for saving in the true sense. Coins are saved in order to be spent at the next best opportunity – which generally comes round quite quickly. This is because Colombia does not really have a savings culture. In fact, it does not even have proper savings accounts. It does have a well-established lending culture, however. Colombians like to seize ‘the chances that life offers’ – preferably straight away. And a loan, even if it is expensive, is seen as a good way of doing this.
Peru – Ceramic Dancers
The town of Quinua lies at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres in the Ayacucho region of Peru, which is famed for its pottery. Indeed some 70 percent of the working population here earn their money from the town’s pottery industry. This ceramic savings box depicts a scene from a traditional festival in Quinua, where a group of musicians play their instruments while indigenous women sing and dance in honour of their revered deity, Pachamama or Mother Earth.
Tajikistan – Marco Polo Sheep
Tajikistan opted for the sheep as its national savings symbol in recognition of this animal’s capacity to secure people’s survival, now and in the future.
Andreas Fohrmann, Vorstandsvorsitzender der Sparkasse Südholstein mit Exponaten der Ausstellung

Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation e.V.
Simrockstraße 4, 53113 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 9703-0
Fax: +49 228 9703-6613 or -6630

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