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.

    Monday
    May112015

    « Enoughness and Experimentation: Blended Learning Opportunity »

    We know that we work in situations of complexity, unpredictability. So why do we keep approaching problems and analysis in the same way?

    There is a global movement committed to do things differently. From the collective impact movement in North America  to the “Doing Development Differently” agenda, we’ve learned that we have to operate more like the entrepreneurs we are working to support.

    That is, in the words of Beckett:

    Fail often, Fail better

    The key to systems thinking and practice is quite simple. Dip a toe in, test the water, monitor closely what is happening and then adapt as you go along. It is a wag the tail approach to learning and doing with tighter faster feedback loops. Quite a different way of working than “getting the methodology right,”  “best practices”, “roll outs.”

    In our savings group work, we’ve learned lots of interesting things that challenge earlier assumptions. Village-agent formed groups can not only match but can exceed field officer formed groups in financial performance. Independent or graduated groups (Zanzibar and Swaziland) had reduced to no training and also performed well. Mature groups morph and adapt the methodologies in all kinds of interesting ways becoming investment clubs, doing bookkeeping differently, forming larger groups to reach economies of scale and finance shocks.

    What can we learn from these examples about “enoughness”? How much is enough training? Enough accompaniment? Under what circumstances can and should the methodology adapt? What’s the right balance between methodological compliance and helping groups make informed choices?

    An upcoming blended (distance learning and face to face) course we are offering through SMDP, Carsey School of Public Policy aims to help SG practitioners ask some of these questions. 

    The course uses a systems approach to scale and impact reviewing current SG concepts, innovations and case-studies over 4.5 months. During this time, learners will be conducting an action research assignment while in the field. This allows them to question experiment and adapt all while getting support from faclitators and peers. 

    We can talk about adaptation and experimentation but most workshops have a time lag between learning and application. The difficult part is trying to implement real time with real messy problems. With distance learning it all happens simultaneously so the re-working of questions and methods happens with support.

    And if you’re worried that you wouldn’t have a chance to meet your peers, the course ends with a week long Advanced Practitioner Intensive in Zambia prior to the SG conference with blended course facilitator Nanci Lee and Savings Revolution’s Paul Rippey. Join us for the adventure!

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