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.


    « Too Much Protection? »

    Last year the state of Andhra Pradesh hobbled its microfinance institutions by mandating district level registration of MFIs – something that sounds innocent enough unless you have visited a district level office in India, in which case you would know that more a pro-business act would have been to shutter the MFIs altogether. The ordinance, as a final nail in the coffin, requires clients to make MFI loan payments at the Panchayat (local government) office. Again, one trip to a panchayat office, its long cues, its love of stamps and paperwork, its indifferent staff, and its inscrutable hours of operation, would convince you that a moneylender, no matter how costly, seems an appealing option.

    According to the article, it would appear that clients miss their MFIs. One wonders why they stopped repaying their loans in the first place. Among the reasons cited in the study were an absence of new loans (“so why should I repay the old one?”), media reports that MFIs caused borrower suicides (“but on second thought no one in my village committed suicide so why am I paying attention to these reports?”), no one else is repaying (“so I’ll take a cue from my neighbor”), the government and opinion leaders pressured us not to repay (“so I will listen to them”).

    So how are former MFI borrowers coping in the absence of MFIs? They are borrowing from other sources, reducing the scale of their businesses, postponing expenditures, and selling off assets.

    They are also turning more to their savings groups, and the loans the self-groups in India can attract. Curiously, this article does not probe the use of the internal funds of groups in the aftermath of the MFI crisis. It only explores the use of government and bank loans to the Self Help Groups. The internal funds of SHGs look very much like VSLAs and other kinds of ASCA-type savings clubs. That the paper took great care in investigating the many sources of financing now available to rural households, but did not investigate the use of internal funds is puzzling. It would have been interesting to know if former MFI clients turned to group internal loans to help meet consumption needs.

    But, the paper does a thorough job of examining external credit. Household opinion shows MFIs are the hands-down winners for doorstep convenience (and time is money); and quick loan processing. Surprisingly, respondents did not complain about harsh MFI collection practices, preferring to call them stringent instead of cruel and unscrupulous, words used by the government and media.

    The meltdown in AP shows that a witch’s brew of indebtedness, saturation of credit options, and aggressive business practices can be a better brew than one with moneylenders as the major ingredient. In reading the report, I could not help but feel a tinge of regret of former MFI clients.

    For all of us who admire savings groups, I think there is a lesson here as well. People like to borrow and having savings options is not going to change their interest in borrowing. What groups can change is how their members make choices. Better that such advice and change happens by group action than government fiat. 

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