Five Best Savings Group Ideas of 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 8:43PM
Paul Rippey

Unlike the bad ideas that have been recycled year after year, the good ideas of 2013 are all new this year, which is quite exciting! We count down from five to one, towards the very best idea of 2013.

5 New MIS
Hugh Allen and VSL Associates have rewritten the standard MIS, creating something which is web-based and more decentralized and more flexible. I don’t fully understand all the implications, but I share some of Hugh’s enthusiasm for something that can be easily managed by local organizations and allows them to put themselves on the map, at their own risk.
4 Puddles
Jean Claude Rodriguez Ferrera is in California, working with some very smart friends and thinking way outside the box, to find ways of bringing savings groups to almost anyone, on line. It’s still very early, and I don’t know what to make of Puddles yet – but just wait: this could change everything.
3 Activists
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Pakistan is replacing the concept of the trainer, as the font of knowledge about how groups are run, by the activist, a person who trusts and empowers group members to share what they know. A lot of group formation happens because of activists anyway, informally. AKRSP will recruit people with a track record in civil society, who already make things happen, and give them some support, some tools, and a mandate.
2 e-Recording
FSD Kenya has invested in a smart phone app that will replace much of the drudgery of bookkeeping in SGs, improve accuracy, simplify monitoring, and provide a much larger set of data to help us understand group performance and dynamics. Coupled with video training, it creates the possibility of a “group-in-a-box”, a simple kit that may eventually democratize the creation of high-quality groups, and bypass the INGOs altogether. The key word is democratize: like many innovations, this can be used either to centralize control, or to give people control. 
1 Video Training
Freedom from Hunger has pioneered the use of short films that can be used on smart phones to train both trainers, and groups, in local languages. The potential advantages are huge: this may reduce costs, but even before that, it is likely to assure consistency of messages, something which is terribly difficult to achieve otherwise.


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