Today’s Revolutionary:  
Leonard Nimoy’s Photographs


Leonard Nimoy, the actor who is best known for playing Mr. Spock in the Startrek TV series and movies, lived long and prospered, and just passed away at 83. Besides his acting, he directed movies, appeared on Broadway, while leading a parallel career as a photographer. His photos were remarkable, including a series he called “The Full Body Project”, of women with, well, full bodies. The pictures, to me, totally honor the subjects, who are variously clothed and not, and in one case mimic the poses of a familiar group of nude dancers by Matisse.



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Savings Groups are catching on in Europe and North America.

Follow this movement, and maybe get involved yourself.

Start by reading the Northern Lights page of Savings Revolution.

Then, if you like, contact us below, and we can talk about how you can form your own groups. We’ll put you in touch with someone who can help you do that!

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    Favorite Sites

    Here are some other sites that Kim and Paul read, that we think you might enjoy.


    Winkomun: This is a site of the ACAF network, mostly in Europe. They are doing great work and are Northern Lights leaders. Nice video where various members answer the question, “What is a Group”? Also available in español, català, and français. Where else can you get news about Savings Groups in Catalan?

    The SEEP Savings Led Working Group site. Congratulations to SEEP for putting together this comprehensive, easily accessible go-to site on savings groups. Check out their library, their report on outreach by country, and lots of other goodies.

    Village Finance Blog. Brett Hudson Matthew’s thoughtful posts are grounded in an understanding of oral cultures, history, and social dynamics. Recommended for anyone trying to understand what’s really happening in savings groups. 

    Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at UC Irvine. “Its mission is to support research on money and technology among the world’s poorest people. We seek to create a community of practice and inquiry into the everyday uses and meanings of money, as well as … technological infrastructures”. ‘Nuff said.

    David Roodman’s Microfinance Open Book Blog. David Roodman combines intelligence, honesty, and a sense of humor. He attempts to bring intellectual rigor to the analysis of the impact of financial services, and isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in the process.

    Clean Air, Bright Light. This site by Savings Revolution co-founder Paul Rippey contains useful information about lessons learned in using savings groups to promote clean lighting. Still in development but check it out anyway!

    Center for Financial Inclusion. CFI supports traditional microfinance to become more client friendly, more inclusive, and generally smarter. They have a long-term vision for the sector, and the blog attracts many good writers and thoughtful comments.








    Financial Promise for the Poor 

    Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Bulld Microsavings is your go-to book on savings groups. Its contributors are authors you often read in this blog. It covers current innovations in microsavings happening around the world.

    Also, don’t miss…

    Savings Groups at the Frontier, the book inspired by the 2011 Savings Group Summit!

    Buy in UK or US.

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    Over the last twenty years, many people have become interested in helping poor people around the world get good financial services. Mohammed Yunus and the institution he founded, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, won a Noble Prize in 2006 for helping start a movement that has brought financial services to millions around the world. 

    Banks and microfinance institutions are one way to bring financial series to the poor. Savings Groups, managed by the members and based on savings rather than debt, are another solution. In fact, we think they’re such a good solution that they really are revolutionary.

    Savings Groups are self-selected groups of 15 to 30 women and men who get together to save and borrow. Rather than go into debt to an external institution, they manage their own savings through transparent procedures and all the money they earn through interest on loans stays in their village, and in their group.

    This seven-minute video is a great short introduction to savings groups:

    A number of international non-profit organizations work with local partners to train people in villages and cities in how to manage their own savings groups. There are now over five million savings group members in Africa alone, and the movement is also growing in Asia and Latin America. (There are even a few groups in Europe and North America).

    Savings Revolution is designed to help you learn more about Savings Groups, and to get involved with the most exciting new approach to bringing safe financial services to people around the world.


    How cool is Digit?

    I just came across Digit, a new phone app which cleverly observes your cashflow patterns, and decides how much you can painlessly save. It starts out cautiously, transferring small sums from your bank account to a special Digit savings account. If this seems to be okay with you, it will gradually become bolder, and have you save a little more. You can move your money back from their account

    Click to read more ...


    SG2015: The Power of Savings Groups

    Every two years, the Savings Group community has been getting together to meet and greet, talk and squalk, wheel and deal, and party hearty. This is the place where donors and grantees have lunch, linkers and whatever you call the opposite of linkers have animated conversations, big and small implementers get together in the evening, and lots of ideas flow. The SG conferences have been different - more participative, more fun, more honest exchanges, than many other conferences I have attended. 

    This year - as you see above - SG2015 will be in Lusaka Zambia. There are many details still to announce, including the exact dates in November (which will be announced soon). You can sign up to receive regular announcements by clicking here. But now, at least, you can begin to plan - don’t schedule ANYTHING ELSE in NOVEMBER! Tell your friends and family - That’s it! End of story: We’re going to Lusaka!

    Big thanks to SEEP for doing all the hard work of organizing this conference.


    Look Ma - No hands!

    A conversation with my colleague Gena, who is new to Savings Groups:
    Gena: Paul, are you telling me that people just stay in Savings Groups all their lives, just saving and borrowing?
    Paul: Some people do.

    Click to read more ...


    Savings groups and skills development: A pathway for youth economic strengthening

    A recent Microlinks post notes that savings groups – in combination with skills development and entrepreneurial activity – is a promising strategy to build the economic capacity of youth. Plan International’s Youth Microfinance Project (YMF) has demonstrated success in this area through an integrated youth economic empowerment program that has promoted youth savings groups (YSGs) and delivered financial education, life skills and entrepreneurship training to 90,000 youth in West Africa. Evidence of impact and lessons learned are presented here.

    Click to read more ...


    New paper on innumeracy, illiteracy and financial inclusion

    This new paper, Oral Information Management Tools: Lighting the Path to Financial Inclusion, addresses the challenge of innumeracy and illiteracy in financial inclusion, with frequent reference to savings groups. Practitioners know that these constraints can cause people to avoid savings groups, or use them sub-optimally. The paper introduces oral information management (OIM) solutions. It includes examples from Cambodia, Bangladesh and the Solomon Islands, proposes a set of core principles for OIM

    Click to read more ...


    Greeting as a basic human need

    A very poor Malian woman joined Nyesigiso - the big network of cooperatives in Mali that I was then the director of. Remarkably she was able to save some money, and borrowed some also, and went into business. It was a very small business - it started with 1500 francs, about three dollars. The business grew, and she began to acquire some assets and more important, confidence. We wanted to see what the impact of membership was, especially on the businesses of our members, so we brought some consultants in to do a qual-quan impact study. I went out in the field to spend some time with the members, and I met this woman and asked her what had changed in her life. “People greet me now,” was the unexpected response. 

    Click to read more ...


    2014: some reflections

    Having done virtually no field work this year I’ve had more time away from the minutiae of individual projects to follow some of the broader themes I find interesting and relevant. As the year draws to a close, I was asked “what have you been thinking about?” and so I found myself pondering what has been — if not to try and figure out what might be, to at least take stock of where we’re at.

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    The Non-Consumer Advocate

    There are some great websites that are swimming against the current of consumerism. Here’s one, from Portland, where I live: The Non-Consumer Advocate. It consistently makes the point that the quality of our lives is not measured by the stuff that we own.

    This idea is a stick in the wheel, or a spanner in the works, of the consumer banking industry. If people made do with less, we wouldn’t need credit card debt, and then - what would happen to the banks? We need to be courageous to think about living that differently. If China had to close some of their coal-powered planet-destroying factories, if Walmart’s

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    In Search Of: Social Fund Stories!

    Each spring, Philanthropiece hosts a Community Bank Conference in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that offers a space for savings group members from the region to gather to share experiences and to learn from one another. The conference features workshops, dialogues, and learning sessions that allow local leaders to grow and deepen their understanding of the methodology. We will hold our next conference in March of 2015, and we plan to highlight the role of the Social Fund within a savings group.

    Click to read more ...


    Puddle jumping

    Some of you are following Puddle, the US based on-line savings and lending programme. Puddle is still evolving rapidly, but it’s also a functioning service where lots of people are actively saving and borrowing - I’ve invested all of twelve dollars, just to be a member and follow its progress.

     I was excited to see this message from Puddle a couple of days ago:

     Starting today, you can borrow more on Puddle by building trust. 
    To access more money, you can simply trust your friends on Puddle. When a

    Click to read more ...


    Trim Tabs and Savings Groups

    Good development work is about putting in small inputs which help existing systems work better. To get the maximum impact, you want the inputs to be smaller and the impact to be larger. So to use the old example, a good project doesn’t give a woman a fish, it teaches her to fish. 
    But Better Projects don’t teach a woman to fish. Instead, they create a sustainable fishing school where lots of women can come to learn to fish.
    But Even Better projects don’t create a fishing school. Instead, they empower the Ministry of Marine Resourses to create specialty schools.

    Click to read more ...


    "Financial Education"

    I just came across this short film and I thought I would share it with our readers who are practicing “Financial Education”.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was involved in a fairly early effort to spread what we called “Financial Education” in 2006-7 in Uganda, and this was a very successful effort, or so everyone said. But, increasingly,

    Click to read more ...


    Savings Revolution, Savings Groups, and the New York Times

    David Bornstein, author of The Price of a Dream and many other excellent books, writes of savings groups in this week’s New York Times. His column, part of a blog called Opinionater, focuses on development “Fixes.” Clearly, he thinks savings groups have the potential to be such a fix. Enjoy his post here called “An Inclusive Emerging Economy, With Africa in the Lead.” And he is a fan of Savings Revolution. 


    ROSCAs revisited!

    Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) are groups in which every member contributes the same amount every meeting (usually the same amount of money, but sometimes sugar or household goods), and the members take turns receiving the entire amount. They provide less flexibility that Savings Groups, but some of the same services: Commitment savings, lump sums, social support. They are simple, generally safe (unless people drop out after they have received their share), and very widespread. ROSCAs have a hundred names

    Click to read more ...