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.


    « The Gatwikera Railway Savings Club and The Role of Rewards »

    In a previous post, I wrote about Rev. Duncan and his clever bank of 1810. Beyond providing an allowance for those out of work, his bank was creative in other ways, pressing into service rewards for specific behaviors.

    “The rate of interest on savings deposits, fixed now by most banks at a conservative 3 percent, varied greatly on the moneys turned over to Dr. Duncan for safe keeping. A depositor of three years’ standing in his bank who wanted to marry would be paid 5 per cent while those remained single would be paid 4 percent.” 

    While these behaviors may seem antique in 2012, they likely were socially important in 1810. What’s key is the concept of varying interest rates to inspire desirable habits. Similar rewards can be seen in the work of Lukas Alube, an activist who assists savings groups in the Nairobi slum of Kibera.

    The Gatwikera Railway Savings Club, one of many clubs that Lukas assists, includes fifty women and men. It has divided its membership into more manageable savings groups of twenty-five members each.

    Minimum savings is ten cents per day but some members are able to coax more from their meager incomes, depositing surpluses into their group fund.

    The club has found ways to match member savings with grants and mortgages in a new housing project.  Beyond daily deposits into the group fund, members are each saving over the course of more than a year, an additional $400 to purchase a parcel of land located 30 kilometers from Nairobi.  Muungano Wa Wana Vijiji (Kenyan Homeless People’s Federation) will supplement that amount with another $600 apiece to complete the sum needed by each member for land acquisition.

    To keep member spirits high, the club channels a portion of interest on loans toward specific member rewards. This past December, the member who saved the most received $18 (acknowledging progress) as did the member who saved the least (acknowledging both poverty and perseverance). Groups at that time had reached almost half their goal for land purchase.

    Such bonuses sound much like a strategy deployed by Reverend Duncan: “Premiums for regular deposits were offered from the auxiliary fund, to which the extraordinary and honorary member of the bank contributed. Those “who should have exhibited proofs of superior industry or virtue” were rewarded with special honors.”

    Doses of good medicine in 1810 seem much like doses of good medicine in 2012. 

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