In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups Are Revolutionizing Development

In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups Are Revolutionizing Development

Jeffrey Ashe, Kyla Jagger Neilan

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1626562180

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Two and a half billion people worldwide, most of them desperately poor villagers, need a better way to save and to borrow. Even the most innovative banking institutions can’t reach them; savings groups can.
In savings groups, members save what they can in a communal pot and loan their growing fund to each other for their short-term needs. Jeffrey Ashe and Kyla Neilan illustrate how these savings groups form and function and how little “outside” support is actually required for their success. Drawing on decades of Ashe’s personal experience, this book describes how he developed Saving for Change, which leveraged the wisdom and strength of group members to train and establish new groups. This model has impacted the lives of 680,000 people across five countries.
Savings groups are a “catalytic innovation” that bypasses subsidies, dependency, and high costs while effectively reducing chronic hunger, building assets, and empowering the community. Today, saving groups have 9 million members around the globe—with minimal support, membership could grow to ten times this number.



















bring a few bowlfuls of millet to her home before the market, to ensure that the family had enough to eat. Kadija thanked everyone for her fortune to receive such generosity. Silently, she worried about repaying the kindness BK Ashe In Their Own Hands P5.indd 39 7/16/14 10:02 PM 40 In Their Own Hands because, unlike Bintou and others in the group, Kadija rarely made or grew enough of anything to sell. Often she barely managed to make the weekly savings contribution, a few times struggling

nets but to ensure that the women learned enough to make educated choices about malaria prevention and treatment. As she wrapped up, she told them that next month she’d discuss how to treat a bed net with insecticide so that they could do it at home, which is cheaper than buying a pretreated BK Ashe In Their Own Hands P5.indd 46 7/16/14 10:02 PM A Group Meeting47 net. Djeneba thanked the women for their engagement and let them know she would stay after the meeting if anyone wanted to

Anyango, Ezra, Ezekiel Esipisu, Lydia Opoku, Susan Johnson, Markku Malkamaki, and Chris Musoke. “Village Savings and Loan Associations: Experience from Zanzibar.” Small Enterprise Development 18 (2007): 11–24. Accessed February 27, 2014. doi:10.3362/0957-1329.2007.004. Ashe, Jeffrey. Saving for Change: Initial Findings of the Baseline Survey and Future Plans for Saving for Change Initiative in Mali. Boston, MA: Oxfam America, 2006. ———. Trip Report: El Salvador and Guatemala. Boston, MA: Oxfam

2013. content/mali/fr/home/mdgoverview/overview/mdg3. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “UNODC Homicide Statistics.” Last modified 2013. unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html. United Nations World Food Program (UN WFP). “Guatemala: Overview.” Accessed June 14, 2013. countries/guatemala/overview. United States Institute for Peace. “Truth Commission: Guatemala.” Accessed June 14, 2013.

Neilan’s new book, In Their Own Hands, presents a stunningly simple, thoroughly tested, and visionary new way for the poor to save and borrow. In Mali, the outcome was dramatic: less hunger, ownership of more livestock, and more clout for village women. The remarkable difference with savings groups is how they are able to achieve scale—not through building financial institutions as microfinance has done but by catalyzing the problem-solving capacity of the poor. The ideas in this book have the

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