Today’s Revolutionary:  
Francis Poulenc

Francis Poulenc (7 January 1899 – 30 January 1963) was a French composer and pianist. I had heard of his music and something about the way it was described made me not want to go further. Then, the other night, I was at a concert by a very good choir which sang four motets by Poulenc, and I was blown away. It was transcendent music.

Poulenc went to business school, and never studied music. The French are more likely to work in the field they study in than, say, Americans. We can be grateful that he broke that mold!

 

Catch up on over 200 previous “Today’s 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.

    Making the Road - a blog by Bill Maddocks. “Through honesty, courage and persistent inquiry we learn the way forward as development practitioners and human beings.” Bill brings rich experience not just with development work, but with life, to these discussions. 

    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.

    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.

    Thursday
    Oct042012

    « What's the difference? »

    A friend wrote me this morning and asked, “To put it simply, what do savings groups offer that micro finance doesn’t?”

    Great question! Here was my quick answer. 

    “Let’s define terms. If by micro-finance, you mean micro-credit, then the biggest difference is that savings groups offer savings.
    If by micro-finance, you really mean micro-finance, then a generally accepted list of the advantages and disadvantages of SGs would be these:
    Advantages
    1. Proximity, and low barriers to entry. No paper work, photo ID, applications, fees, bus ride into town, to access services.
    2. Commitment savings. Members agree to save, and other members put gentle or strong pressure on everyone to save at least the minimum.
    3. No money leaves the village. Interest is returned to members. Near zero administrative costs.
    4. Extremely fast disbursement. Get money when you need it.
    5. Individual loans - no joint and separate guarantees like Grameen style institutions require.
    6. Flexibility. Everyone knows when child is sick or breadwinner dies, and group allows people to repay late.
    7. Use as platform. Groups are an excellent platform for training, social marketing, collective purchase of inputs, access to social services. 
    8. Social fund: most groups keep a separate fund to help out with births, funerals, and such.
    9. “Special sauce”. Groups have something in the area of democracy and empowerment that goes beyond what formal institutions can offer. 
    Disadvantages
    1. Amounts that can be borrowed are low relative to MFIs, especially in the first year or two of a group’s existence.
    2. In most situations, group membership is not taken as evidence of credit-worthiness by formal institutions although this may be changing slowly.
    3. Groups do not support long-term savings nor long-term loans. That’s an argument for using multiple services, not replacing groups by MFIs, though.

    Readers, what would you add or subtract from those lists?

     

     

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