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.

    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.

    Friday
    May012015

    « Outside the categories of the marketplace »

    In his EvangelIi Gaudium (Apostolic Exhortation), Pope Francis says that ethics “calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace.”  What a wonderful phrase!

    The categories of the marketplace that Francis is referring to are things like profit and loss, return on investment, market share, business cases, and financial inclusion.

    We have, maybe unknowingly, maybe indifferently, often let these categories become the sole points of reference for discussions of what is important. They have become the criteria for decision-making and the measures for evaluating our actions. They have largely pushed other values out of the way–values like truth, beauty, harmony, integrity, virtue, and mindfulness.

    I thought about this when I visited a beautiful savings group in Malawi last month. I don’t mean it was beautiful in some abstract sense, like “they followed their procedures beautifully.” I mean that it was beautiful because of the way it looked. The members — who had invested in similar outfits, white shirts and green chitenje clothes, all spotless – sat in a circle, taking a moment to adjust their positions so the circle was as perfect as they could make it. They ran the meeting following an austere and beguiling ritual: each member coming forward in turn and kneeling in the center, conducting her affairs with the group and then returning to her place before the next member came forward.

    That beauty seems to have arisen spontaneously from the members. It was the value they added to the cash-management and meeting procedures they had carefully learned. I can’t quantify the added value of the beauty, because it is in a different category from the familiar averages and ratios – amounts saved and lent, attendance, and portfolio performance.

    What if we could predict with reasonable confidence that a certain development investment would likely encourage people to lie or might reduce trust between people or could make the world uglier? Would we still want to support it, even if it raised incomes of poor people? Would we at least take those other factors into consideration, along with return on investment?

    I believe that some of the resistance many people have to turning savings groups into adjuncts to banks, or helping people enter the consumer society, or putting great emphasis on financial inclusion over other values — this comes from the fear that we are giving up non-marketplace values in the process. I don’t know how to solve the equation of balancing marketplace and non-marketplace values, but I am confident that both are important and that the beauty of the savings group I saw in Malawi makes the world a better place, even if we can’t put a price on it.

     

    (This article is published also on the MicroCredit Summit Campaign site).

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