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.
What is a person’s worth? It used to be about reputation in the community, the loyalty exhibited to friends and employer, the people you could count on in case of need. With increasing development and the broader reach of markets came the need to impersonalize economic transactions, and with that the increasing monetization of most aspects of our lives. Money has become the measure of all things.
REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND ‘TOP SECRET’. I AM SURE AND HAVE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR ABILITY AND RELIABILITY TO PROSECUTE A TRANSACTION OF THIS GREAT MAGNITUDE INVOLVING A PENDING TRANSACTION REQUIRING MAXIIMUM CONFIDENCE.
WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN IMPORATION OF GOODS INTO OUR COUNTRY
In a surprising policy shift, India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, NABARD, traditionally the chief promotor of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in India, has decided to drop the SHG model in favor of self managed groups following traditional SG approaches. NABARD through its partners has formed over 2.2 million SHGs with about 33,000,000 members, and wants to reorient all of them to the SG model over the next 18 months. In order to reach that many people, NABARD is planning to rely on a “Bollywood” themed series of short films to be shown on TV, in movie houses, and through portable media shows going from village to village. The short clip above is an example, designed to sensitize viewers to the role of the fee-for-service trainer.
If we are to believe the investment itch to fund all things digital, savings groups go the way of vacuum tubes, i.e. they will become ancient history. Accion through its Venture Labs is investing part of its $10 million capital base into Emoneypool, a digital platform for Savings Circles (aka savings groups). The investment will somehow need to pay off and at this stage it seems like a 5% service fee will be the key. Time will tell. Until then get rid of those rusty locks and heavy boxes. Help - albeit extre expensive help - is on the way.
World Relief decided to start piloting the e-Recording app in Rwanda. It is an Android smart phone app, developed by FSD Kenya, designed to eliminate the traditional ledger and passbook system, moving savings into the digital age. The app performs all the record keeping and calculation functions of the group, including recording attendance, savings, issuing loans and loan repayments, and social fund contributions. It also instantly calculates share-out amounts for each member. All information is saved both locally on the phone as well as in the Cloud allowing the data to be accessed remotely. It certainly has its
Catholic Relief Services, as many readers know, has developed a particular approach to savings groups involving fee-for-service trainers called Private Service Providers (PSPs) who continue to form groups and expand their networks after any funding is over. I have written favorably about this approach on Savings Revolution here.
I’m very grateful that Guy Vanmeenen, CRS’s Senior Technical Advisor for Microfinance in Africa (see picture) has generously made this brand new version of the CRS PSP Implemenation Guide available to the world. Even if you aren’t going to adopt the entire PSP system, you will find inspiration here. In particular, you will admire and hopefully emulate the carefully thought out strategy for post-project growth and expansion.
Dear Paul - Please don’t keep your promise about solar women and their special bond to lighting. It takes us back to the promise of the 1950s - women and vacuum cleaners: “I promise in the next two weeks to write about women vacuuming their homes.” Yes, the vacuum removed dust and did all kinds of nice things for the family but that women were tasked with such efforts was less than liberating.
In case today’s revolutionary disappears, here is what it says:
As a traveling American, I face the insane roaming costs of the US telephone companies, and so I use the work-around of having a local phone and swapping SIM cards in each country I visit. It’s inconvenient for me and for anyone who wants to talk to me, but it’s affordable. A few months ago, when my old traveling phone was getting tired, I tried to buy a new low cost traveling phone - that is, an inexpensive phone that I could just make local calls with.
I went into the Safaricom shop in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi - the mall that would be the site of a tragic terrorist attack