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.



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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!

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    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.

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    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.


    « Impact evaluation, now a board game! »

    If rigorous impact evaluation can improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, why couldn´t it improve yours? But few of us have the time or inclination to fill in the necessary questionnaires, the discipline to refrain from polluting behaviors that can get in the way of precise measurement, and the patience to wait a couple of years to get the results. Gamification may hold the answer: if it makes you do and buy things online that you otherwise wouldn´t do and buy, why not gamify your self-improvement research? 

    The smart folks at Controlled Human Impacts Corp (CHIC) have come up with a board game that takes a group of friends through the process of evaluating impacts on a range of daily activities and chores.

    This is how it works. The board is split up into a sequence of zones, which players need to transition through. Everyone starts in the Faith Zone, and to move into the next zone, the Evidence Zone, they must cross the Base Line. They do so by picking up 578 cards from the Instrument Pile on the Evidence Zone, and answering the question on each card. The questions are drawn from among the best that real researchers have used in the field, such as (from here): During the last week, how many days were you bothered by things that usually don’t bother you? Thinking about two weeks ago, how much did your household spend on cold cuts and sausages that week? In a scale from 1 to 10, do you think most people would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance, or would they try to be fair? Who decides whether to buy an appliance or not for the home, you or your spouse?

    Questions must be answered out loud and in rapid-fire fashion. Other players can call out “hesitation!” when answers are not delivered with enough conviction, or “inconsistency!” when the answer to a question contradicts the answer given to a previous question, but that does not affect the course of the game in any way. 

    The next step up from the Evidence Zone is the Treatment Zone. Here each player picks a single card from the Treatment Pile, which contains an action that the player must do or avoid. These actions for all players are themed around a given topic, which need not be particularly significant but they need to be easy enough to do – or not do. If the theme is dishwashing, for example, the actions on the cards might be things like: Stick a note on your forehead reminding you to do the dishes tonight. Or think up three good reasons why you should do the dishes tonight. 

    Once you have accepted your action or inaction, you move into the Observation Zone. This part is timed, using the sand clock provided with the game, and tends to be the slowest part of the game. While you are in the Observation Zone, you can think or not think about your action or inaction. At every turn of the sand clock, each player needs to pick up and declare the answer to another set of 459 cards from the same Instrument Pile used previously. Here you might get to tell the other players: During the last 30 days, due to lack of money or resources, how many nights did you or your child go to bed hungry? In the last two years, have you bought or sold a mattress or a heater? In the last month, how much did your household receive from jobs without a fixed salary? On a scale of five, how much trust do you have in your family?

    This is done two or three times (players can decide that as they go along), and on completion of this process, players move automatically to the Trial Zone. In this Zone, the players look at each others´ responses and have to decide whether Impact has happened or not, based on how action and inaction changed their answers. For this, they can use a calculator provided in the game box that only has two function buttons: average and subtract. If a player finds impact on someone else (for instance in the previous example, that more dishes have indeed been washed), he or she should shout out: “ME! ME!” (short-hand for impact that has been measured and evaluated). If no impact is deemed, players can still declare ME! if they can find specific circumstances under which impact could be detected. For instance, if more dishes got washed on even-numbered days, if more dishes didn´t get washed but those that did were more sparkling, or if the left arm did more washing than the right arm.

    Impacted players pick up a Science Point, and can then start all over again but each time they must pick a different action or inaction card in the Treatment Zone. The winner is whoever collects most Science Points after n rounds.

    CHIC´s game is sure to transform our lives. Their motto is: “a life with more data is a life with more meaning.”  But the game doesn´t come cheap. CHIC insists that the price is the only data point that is not significant. They cite research with dozens of people who have played the board game where the action was to buy the game, which consistently shows ME! ME!

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Wow. Is an "impacted player" the same thing as an impacted tooth? Only not made of horn, tusk, toenail or tooth material but made of feeling and thinking material? If so, I am not sure I want to transition out of the faith zone. Mainly because evidence is a form of faith. And I don't want to be treated for it.

    Wed, April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim Wilson

    I am finding the survey from the IPA organization very thorough. We are very grateful to you, Mr. Rippey, for helping to open our eyes to what can be done with proper M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation). Thank you.

    PS IPA (India Pale Ale)!?!?

    Wed, April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

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