In an earlier post, I tried, without success, to use bitcoin. Prior to writing that post, I was a believer in this new counterculture currency. Would this be something savings group members would like? Bitcoin seemed cool, subversive in a Height-Ashbury kind of way,
Mr. B is a good guy. He has worked with his bank to make it very easy for people without a lot of money to open an account and do business with the bank. He is using technology in creative ways, and I love it that lots of people who have never had a bank account before now have a convenient way to get the security
I spend most of my time in Africa helping to set up savings groups. These are small informal associations, made up of 15-25 people (mostly women) who regularly meet to save. The money is used as a loan fund, from which anyone in the group can borrow, paid back with interest - at a rate set by the group. At the end of a year all the loans are paid back (defaulting is very rare) and the money is shared out in proportion to what each person has saved. The returns are very high, averaging between 20-30%, because no-one receives a salary and the ‘office’ is usually under a tree! No wonder then that members prefer to save their money in the group instead of a bank, where they get no returns and charges eat away at their savings. I am constantly amazed to be paid for doing this and, in 44 years in development work, have never had such fun and felt so rewarded.
(This originally appeared in the Guardian Newspaper Unusual Jobs section).
National Public Radio has an interesting podcast called “A World Without Banks”. Here’s what they say on their site:
There’s this big idea floating around right now. It sounds crazy and fringey, but it turns out some non-crazy, non-fringey people are into it. The idea is this: let’s get rid of the banks. Don’t make them safer. Don’t make them smaller. Just get rid of them.
The podcast talks about peer-to-peer lending and other new technology-driven possibilities. Sometimes entire industries disappear when
A few months ago, the instructor of a user design workshop challenged the class to redraft the Healthcare.gov website, the official site of the Affordable Care Act.
In a flash, my 23-year old classmate and team member, Sam, deftly sketched out a new landing page and a few forms. We had time left over to chat. It was Sam’s chance to question the very existence of the site itself.
A famous 16th century Portuguese poet, Luis Vaz de Camões, once wrote: necessity refines ingenuity. In our brave new world of scarcity, ACAF Portugal is focused on delivering social impact to improve this country’s low level of interpersonal trust (one of the lowest levels in OECD countries). This lack of trust undermines cooperation, initiative and sustainability, a trend we aim to stop. We also want to help prevent poverty and unemployment through our Shared Value Communities, a way to generate and manage collective intelligence and resources.
If you work in savings groups and at the same time you are working to reduce the impact of malaria (like Savings for Change in Mali) or of HIV (like many USAID programmes) or to improve maternal and child health (like the Aga Khan Chitral Child Survival project in Pakistan), read on…
A new World Health Organisation report says that air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths a year. Most of these are due to indoor air pollution, from primitive lighting (like the open flame kerosene lantern in the picture at the left) or from inefficient ways of burning charcoal or firewood. That is more deaths than HIV and malaria combined - that’s hard to believe, I know.
And when people don’t die, they are often injured. Carbon monoxide weakens immune systems. Kerosene spills and burns children. Houses catch on fire.
I keep thinking about the question of group quality. What leads to group failure and members losing money? Sometimes it’s not-so-good training, but sometimes, even if we do a great job training, we may train people in the wrong practices.
One of the practices that I am suspicious of is annual elections. What message does it send to group members to tell them to elect leaders for a year? In particular, what message does that send to group members in countries where elected officials regularly abuse their power and become wealthy? Many groups end up with presidents-for-life, a practice that works about as well in savings groups as it does in politics.
This is a chance to communicate your opinions and thoughts on innovations in savings groups, including but not limited to all the e-gadgets you keep hearing about.
Please click here, and that will take you to the survey. The survey has six questions only and won’t take you very long to complete. The results will be processed and included in a study that MicroSave is carrying out for the MasterCard Foundation. They really do want to hear from YOU, so don’t be shy. Your participation makes a difference.
I took the survey myself, it was quick, and the questions made me think - always a good thing!
—For those who took this seriously - seriously? - This is an April Fools Joke—
Kim Wilson and Paul Rippey announced yesterday that the Savings Revolution website has been sold to Barclays Bank for undisclosed considerations. Kim and Paul started Savings Revolution in 2010 to be an independent voice for community-managed, savings-led groups. The site has been a labor of love for them, financed out of their own resources. In announcing the sale, the founders thank everyone who has contributed to Savings Revolution, and express their hope that the readers will continue their loyalty to the site under the new ownership and management.