I had the pleasure of being at the end of a distinguished chain passing along a new study. (Dale Adams sent it to Hugh Allen who shared it with Savings Revolution). It’s called Outside Funding and the Dynamics of Participation in Community Associations, by two researchers with excellent credentials who were not familiar to me at all: Mary Kay Gugerty of the University of Washington and Michael Kremer of Harvard University.
“…is proposing to set up a long-term Technical Assistance Facility in Sub-Saharan Africa that will support various financial services providers to extend financial services to the unbanked/underserved through innovative group savings mobilization products and other financial services, including credit, payments, and insurance, with the overall objective of improving household’s [sic] access to financial products and services. In particular, the Facility will focus on partnering with local institutions that utilize a number of financial products and innovative delivery channels to those facing the greatest financial exclusion, such as women, young people, small-holder farmers, and people living in remote areas.
I saw this Savings Group (formed by Cadecom) in Mchinji Distric in Malawi earlier this week. It was a high performing group by almost any measure - and I’d like to talk about some measures that we don’t usually use.
I thought there was something elegant and beautiful about the group. Not only did they take the time to seat themselves in an almost perfect circle, but they were in lovely uniforms that they had bought from their savings, every one spotlessly clean and pressed. They just looked great.
For me, elegance and beauty are ends in themselves. So are service and integrity. So are music and art. Do you ever get tired of the non-stop conversations about business plans, return on investment, incentive
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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: