Today’s Revolutionary:
Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine Switzer (b.January 5, 1947) was the first woman to register (as “K.V. Switzer”) and run in the Boston Marathon, in 1967. (Other women had jumped in previous marathons and completed it, but without registering and without numbers on their jerseys). Most of the other runners in the 1967 race were happy to run with a woman, and the race organizers did nothing, until about mile 4, when officials, led by Jock Semple, tried to stop her. “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers,” cried Mr. Semple. Kathrine’s boyfriend, also running the race, shielded her, and she continued and finished.

Switzer has since pointed out that nowhere in the rules was there any provision that runners had to men only. It was just assumed. In an case, the rules were revised five years later, in 1972, explicitly allowing women, and Mr. Semple, who had tried to stop her before, was instrumental in having the rules changed.



Check out over 300 other Revolutionaries here.


Search Savings Revolution

Enter search term in the box below and click on the arrow.


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!

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    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.


    « M-Money - Convenient or Costly? »

    Despite the hyping of mobile money, on a visit last fall to Tanzania, a country poorer than its Kenyan neighbor, I barely saw evidence of M-PESA at least in rural areas around Arusha.

    Likely places to see “M-PESA” – shopping strips filled with money-changers, banks, and other transfer facilities – do not feature it, or at least do so less than in Kenya where signage and stalls are chock-a-block.

    Why is this so? Various theories explain thinner uptake ranging from fragmented telco markets to differing patterns of migration and household behavior. And others say, “no”, it’s growing just fine. But, when I asked why members of savings groups in and near Arusha why they were not using M-PESA, they said: “it is too expensive.”

    The M-PESA site itself tells this story:

    “Registered M-PESA customer Goodson Kimani needs to send Tsh 4,000 to his mother in Tanga. Mama Kimani (who is also a registered M-PESA customer) has no money in her M-PESA account.

    Goodson must have at least Tsh 4,700 in his M-PESA account. He sends Tsh 4,500 to his mother via M-PESA. Tsh 200 is deducted from Goodson’s M-PESA account as a ‘Send Money to Registered Customer’ transaction fee.

    Mama Kimani is notified via SMS that she has received Tsh 4,500 from Goodson. Mama Kimani’s M-PESA account now has Tsh 4,500. Mama Kimani goes to an M-PESA agent in Tanga and withdraws Tsh 4000. Tsh 500 is deducted from Mama Kimani’s M-PESA account as a transaction fee for withdrawal by a registered customer.

    Mama Kimani and her good son end up paying, 700 on a 4000 on a remittance: 17.5%.

    Perhaps the expense factor plays a role in why a recent study by Guy Stuart finds that even in Kenya, motherland of M-PESA, the service facilitates 4% of household transactions, with the rest transacted by cash. This finding comes as somewhat of a surprise to those of us impressed by M-PESA’s reach of 17 million people in Kenya. 

    As major donors rush to catalyze the creation of mobile money infrastructure, they might weigh in on the business policies that surround it. Poor consumers might feel a little more than trapped inside each new currency: it costs a lot to move or withdraw digital money or to switch digital currencies (from M-PESA, say, to Zap). The moneychangers are making all the money. No wonder cash is king.

    To be clear, M-PESA is a breakthrough. Along with other providers of mobile services, it is one of a handful of bright and shiny things in inclusive finance. In fact, savings groups at the core of this blog use M-PESA expedite savings and loan payments of members. But maybe it’s time to reign in our glee around M-PESA’s possibilities. The service is costly and won’t help our groups much until this new currency feels less like a rip-off and more like a bonus.  That, indeed, would start to feel like real inclusion.

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (4)

    Yes Kim I agree with reining in that enthusiasm. M-Pesa is present in South Africa, but none of our groups are using it. Granted, it is early days, but our members say the same thing about M-Pesa that they do about the banks....too expensive. And right now, banks are LESS expensive than M-Pesa.

    Also, here in SA, access to M-Pesa agents is not yet convenient. And security is a risk for those in the township that might want to become an agent. So......we will wait and see what else is on offer before marketing M-Pesa to our group members

    Thu, January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill Thompson

    Hi Kim, thanks for sharing your observations from your trip to Tanzania.

    Let me just add a fact your readers might wish to ponder: the 4000 shillings that Goodson is sending to Mama Kimani amount to all of $2.50. I don't know how many other ways there are to send $2.50 across the country.

    It is true that mobile money pricing is not optimized for such small transactions. But if the transaction was ten times bigger, say $25, the fees would be the same in shilling terms -- and much smaller in percent terms.

    As you know, I've been in rural Tanzania during the last two weeks. While I agree that mobile money agents have largely not yet left the tarmac, there's something really significant I've observed: most farmers seem to know about M-PESA and TigoPesa and AirtelMoney, even if they themselves couldn't use them for lack of agents. There's a powerful word-of-mouth thing going on, a pent-up demand which will facilitate the spread of mobile money agents into smaller towns and villages.

    Kenya is in a league of its own for the speed in which mobile money swept the country. In Tanzania and in Uganda, progress may be slower but mobile money will spread, all the signs are there. Mobile money is growing out of Kenya, and becoming an East African phenomenon.

    Thu, January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIgnacio Mas

    I much appreciate the information presented in this article more so on M-pesa.I being a kenyan and having worked with group saivng micro-credit mobile money transaction have been and are being utilized at maximum by these groups,in contrast to Tanzania the key factor being that the cost of travelling to where banks are is almost as expensive as doing more than 100 mobile tranasaction hence being cheaper and more realible.
    We should also not ingore the fact that though Kenyan have embrassed this techlnology there also other folks who have limitaions towards the same as result of poverty and illiteracy.
    Going by the above illustration of the Goodson and his mother this transaction is much cheaper in Tanzania than in Kenya because the total charge at Tanzania is$0.439 while in Kenya this amount bracket costs 0.883 which is almost twice.

    Fri, January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane Kakai

    I rather think that electronic money is over-sold as having the potential to revolutionise financial services for the poor. The success of M-Pesa in Kenya and its relatively slower uptake in Tanzania may have to do with the fact that there is a much deeper and longer tradition of migrancy in Kenya than Tanzania, in which the breadwinner goes off to the capital city and regularly remits money home. It is perhaps more significant that average balances on M-Pesa are very small (less than $5, I believe) and this tends to suggest that, apart from remittances, it's used as a low balance wallet. The idea that everyone will fall in love with a mobile 'phone for its convenience and accessibility begs the question as to how that differs from a piggy bank - except that it's more expensive and more liable to be stolen or lost. In the context of savings groups it is likely to be a different outcome. Is it not plausible that in a savings group the mutual agreement regularly to save is the principal force that drives savings mobilisation? Introducing a mobile 'phone, makes it low rsk and low cost and allows access to a regulated account, but is not what drives the decision to save. That's more determined by the implicit social contract and established profitability of a savings group, to which the mobile 'phone is, I think, a handy adjunct.

    Wed, February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Allen

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>