Today’s Revolutionary:

Okay, okay, I know that Arizona has come down on the wrong side of some issues. For instance, in this state bathed in sunlight, they have a tax on rooftop solar collectors. Don’t get me started on that.

But I also admire their extreme independence, even when they are wrong - and sometimes they are right. For instance, they have refused to participate in the national nuttiness that is Daylight Savings Time. Arizonans say, reasonably, If you want more sunlight, just get up earlier. Good for them. End of story.



Check out over 300 other Revolutionaries here.


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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.

    Nanci Lee’s blog. Nanci Lee’s eclectic site includes Savings Groups, and also poetry, travel, links to interesting successes around the world, nature, art, women’s rights, and transformation. A very personal blog, and worth reading.







    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.

    Search Savings Revolution


    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.


    « Financial Education in Burundi »

    In a small village in central Burundi, 25 teenage girls stand in a single file line, eagerly awaiting the next word that their training agent will announce.

    “Water!”  She says.  Most of the girls in the line quickly step to their left; one steps to her right.  To this girl, the training agent says, “Did you understand the word?  I said ‘water’!  If you think that it is a ‘need’, step to your left.  If you think it is a ’want’, step to your right!” 

    “I understood you!” the lone rebel replied, smiling broadly.  “And for me, water is a want.  I don’t need it to live.  I could drink beer every day and never have water again!”  The girls erupt in laughter and quickly challenge her answer.

    The scene is a financial education learning session on  “distinguishing between wants and needs”; the girls are members of a savings group that CARE has promoted as part of its pioneering Ishaka (“courage for the future”) program. Although CARE is credited with inventing Savings Groups twenty years ago, this is the first time CARE Burundi has tried to introduce the model to teenage girls. Now there are over 600 savings groups and 12,500 girls, aged 14-22, members. In addition to learning how to save regularly and use their pooled savings to make loans, these girls receive financial education. Though often filled with laughter and entertaining moments, these training sessions provide girls a chance to discuss basic but critical financial decisions for which they have never received any guidance. 

    Targeting girls for financial inclusion under a Nike Foundation grant, CARE sought to not only give them a safe place to save, but teach them how saving can help them and why it is important. Tasked with developing the FE curriculum, Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) drafted modules on four distinct themes, but CARE chose to focus on savings.  Why savings, one might ask, when the girls are learning how to save in the context of their savings groups? As members, these girls learn new tools and strategies to save, which maximizes their participation in the groups and gives their savings activities a clear purpose. 

    CARE used the savings module to train ‘training agents’, group members elected by their peers, to lead the learning sessions with their respective groups.  This peer training model was chosen for its low cost and long-term sustainability. Once the groups have “graduated” from CARE’s supervision, the girls should be able to continue saving, borrowing, and discussing the important life lessons contained in the curricula.

    After a full year of savings group promotion combined with financial education, MFO staff documented the project, from design through implementation, to capture the thoughts of all program participants about what worked well and what should be changed.  Girls articulated the importance of financial education, giving it priority over knowing how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and pregnancy.  As they explained, knowing how to protect themselves is not enough.  Having the financial means to have options and say “no” is what has truly made a difference in their ability to be proactive about their health.

    Parents and their daughters provided many examples of how life has changed after Ishaka. The program targeted vulnerable teenagers, characterized by their parents as rebellious. But participation in savings groups brought together girls who had been strangers, even as residents of the same neighborhoods.  By all reports, they grew more connected, more helpful and polite at home, and certainly more conscientious about their budgeting, spending and saving. Boyfriends and brothers noted that the girls proved how very small savings (just $0.05-0.10 USD per week in most cases) could add up to make a substantial impact.  Girls have started their own small businesses, paid for their own school fees, and paid for home repairs.

    In addition to the face-to-face training, CARE experimented with different ways to deliver financial education messages.  CARE and MFO worked with local organizations Stylemaq and Tubiyage to create comic books featuring a young woman nicknamed ‘Dundumeneke’ (after a very popular type of shoe) on ‘advanced’ financial literacy topics (borrowing, bank services and income generation). Her adventures are documented in a series of four short comic books.  The Ishaka girls each received all four to take home and share with friends and family.

    Observing these meetings, it is clear that the savings aspect draws these girls in and holds them together, but the financial education is getting them talking about their hopes, their dreams, and their financial futures.


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    Reader Comments (1)

    Tremendous work and a great cause. Self sufficiency is a crucial prerequisite for self determination.

    Tue, December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPthomas

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