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.



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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.


    « Mpendulo Savings in 8 or so minutes »

    Hello to all my fellow revolutionairies!

    I submit here for your viewing pleasure a short video clip a local video production company (Ultimate Cut) made for us to post on YouTube.

    It is a shortened form of a much longer production of 25+ minutes.

    What is unique about Mpendulo Savings is that we operate in mostly urban areas. We have found that our uptake is slower and SG are smaller… first. Once people in a given community figure out that we are not a scam, this changes. Most our second year groups grow by at least 20% and new group formation doubles, if not triples. The bigger the urban area, the longer we need a presence before we get a big bump in our new groups formation.

    We also find that our members are very independently minded and will go their own way in terms of applying the methodology once they’ve graduated - despite all the advice we might give them to the contrary. Sometimes, however, the group reverts back to the original methodology after they’ve experimented with ‘their’ way.

    Enjoy the show and let me know what you think of the video.

    PS: Below is a picture of Hank, the Director of Ultimate Cut….this is how we roll in the Eastern Cape of South Africa!! And, Paul, Hank is the guy holding the snake!

    Hank, Director of Ultimate Cut with a Puff Adder he found in his garden and relocated to a remote location.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    This is brilliant Jill! Would there be any way for me to get a copy of both the short and long videos?


    Fri, March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Panetta

    Hi David
    I think both are probably too big to email, but there is a way you can download YouTube videos onto your laptop. Google 'download YouTube' videos and you should be directed to several websites that have free software to do so.

    As for the longer one, probably the only way is to post you a copy via snail mail. Send me your postal address and I'll pop one in the mail to you.

    Fri, March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill Thompson

    Hi Jill, I like it very much. It lays things out nice and simply. Well done! Talk soon, Anton

    Tue, March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnton Krone, SaveAct

    Thanks Jill for the post. I am interested to know the variations that groups usually bring to group operations outside the methodology. I would also like to know (and related to our short study) whether you have experienced groups replicating especially in subsequent cycles or are all the new groups promoted by project staff- you noted that there is an increase in membership in re-forming groups.

    Mon, March 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterKuria Wanjau

    Jill - I too would like a short and long copy. This is great.


    Sun, March 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim Wilson

    Dear Kuria
    In answer to your questions re variations......

    A few groups have chosen to share interest equally, regardless of how much or little one has saved. One group took this a step further and gave each member back the interest they paid on their individual loans. They kept track of this in a separate book and then added it up at the end of the year. They however had problems with this approach last year and were thinking of going back to sharing it according to savings levels, or to share it equally. The last I heard, they hadn't decided what to do yet.

    In terms of calculating interest on loans during the year, one group decided to only charge interest once on loans bigger than R 500 ($63). Other groups decided not to charge interest on any loans made in November (the month before most share out).

    Some amount of debate is currently occurring in groups regarding the size of loans and the 3x's the amount of savings rule. one very risk averse group decided no member could have a loan larger than HALF the total amount of savings. Others are now limiting members to twice the amount of savings. In the beginning of the year when the loan fund hasn't accumulated yet, a few groups are limiting loans to no more than your savings or only twice until the loan fund grows.

    In regards to the social fund, most groups chose not to have this, but several opted to have separate savings for such things as birthday clubs, funerals and Christmas groceries, to name a few.

    In terms of spontaneous replication by groups themselves, we've not yet seen this occur. However, in the majority of graduated groups, additional members join. Most of our groups start small and then grow in subsequent years. We did have one group that added so many members that they decided to split into two. The group members though wanted to be trained by our training officers.

    One thing we've been hearing though is that there has been a renewed interest amongst community members to start traditional RoSCAS. We have not been able to verify this with any objective data, mainly because we don't have the resources to do so!

    Mon, March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill Thompson

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