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.


    Would I save my own money here?

    Here’s a good question to ask when one encounters a savings group: “Would I save my own money in it”?

    I’ve used the following two videos in workshops to illustrate the point - I would personally save in one of these groups, but in the other, I’d be afraid that I’d never find my money again. Too many hands touching it, nobody checking the record keeper. The other meeting is just about perfect.

    Click to read more ...


    Savings Revolution does it again! (But maybe for the last time)

    Dear Readers,

    The next three posts are all April Fools jokes. There is no board game about Impact Evaluation, I (Paul Rippey) did not write a book called In My Own Hands, and to the best of my knowledge, there are no savings groups in North Korea. (And, if you saw the April First Today’s Revolutionary, let me be clear that Poutine is NOT a wonder food recommended by doctors for a variety of healh issues). These were all jokes.

    I learned today that there is a backlash going on against April Fools Jokes on the Internet. If I am sitting with you and tell you an April Fools Joke, I will make sure that you get that it is a joke before I leave you. But that’s not possible on the interenet. I know some of you read the posts quickly (like I myself do) and believed them. Also, the whole April Fools thing isn’t practiced the same way in different cultures. It would be easy for some of our readers, who come from nearly 100 countries, to misinterpret.  

    I’m not sure we should do April Fools jokes on Savings Revolution. We’ve got a year to figure that out! In the meantime, thank you for reading the serious stuff!



    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? 

    Click to read more ...


    Paul Rippey’s New Book Launches

    I am thrilled to announce the publication of In My Own Hands: How Three Decades of Work in Pro-Poor Finance brought me Real Estate, a Stock Portfolio, and Diamond Elite Status on Delta Airlines. This is a book I had to write. It shows how my work bringing financial services to the world’s poorest people led my family and me to live in beautiful villas, send the children to private schools, and attend sumptuous conferences in cities from Frankfurt to Seattle, Washington to Cape Town. For young people with a passion to make people’s lives better,  the book is full of useful hints on loopholes in US tax law, maximizing reimbursables, and managing household help.

    Click to read more ...


    North Korea leads world in Savings Groups!

    Kim Jong-Un, The Glorious Village Agent, has brought village level savings to all Korean peasants, factory workers, and party members. The Great Facilitator invented Savings Groups twelve months ago while piloting his jet fighter and at the very same instant writing an opera of extraordinary beauty. He immediately put in place a cascade training structure that brought these wonderful creations to all the citizens of the Democrate Republic of North Korea in only three days.
    Already, Savings Groups have raised the standard of living of Korean workers, pushing them even further ahead of our brothers and sisters in the South, who toil away in near slavery at Samsung, Boeing and Starbucks. There has never been poverty in our land,

    Click to read more ...


    When money flows into informal groups

    I had the pleasure of being at the end of a distinguished chain passing along a new study. (Dale Adams sent it to Hugh Allen who shared it with Savings Revolution). It’s called Outside Funding and the Dynamics of Participation in Community Associations, by two researchers with excellent credentials who were not familiar to me at all: Mary Kay Gugerty of the University of Washington and Michael Kremer of Harvard University. 

    Click to read more ...


    Whither the Savings Group?

    In the introduction of a recent recruitment notice:

    “…is proposing to set up a long-term Technical Assistance Facility in Sub-Saharan Africa that will support various financial services providers to extend financial services to the unbanked/underserved through innovative group savings mobilization products and other financial services, including credit, payments, and insurance, with the overall objective of improving household’s [sic] access to financial products and services. In particular, the Facility will focus on partnering with local institutions that utilize a number of financial products and innovative delivery channels to those facing the greatest financial exclusion, such as women, young people, small-holder farmers, and people living in remote areas.

    Click to read more ...


    Beauty and Savings Groups

    I saw this Savings Group (formed by Cadecom) in Mchinji Distric in Malawi earlier this week. It was a high performing group by almost any measure - and I’d like to talk about some measures that we don’t usually use.

    I thought there was something elegant and beautiful about the group. Not only did they take the time to seat themselves in an almost perfect circle, but they were in lovely uniforms that they had bought from their savings, every one spotlessly clean and pressed. They just looked great.

    For me, elegance and beauty are ends in themselves. So are service and integrity. So are music and art. Do you ever get tired of the non-stop conversations about business plans, return on investment, incentive

    Click to read more ...


    How cool is Digit?

    I just came across Digit, a new phone app which cleverly observes your cashflow patterns, and decides how much you can painlessly save. It starts out cautiously, transferring small sums from your bank account to a special Digit savings account. If this seems to be okay with you, it will gradually become bolder, and have you save a little more. You can move your money back from their account

    Click to read more ...


    SG2015: The Power of Savings Groups

    Every two years, the Savings Group community has been getting together to meet and greet, talk and squalk, wheel and deal, and party hearty. This is the place where donors and grantees have lunch, linkers and whatever you call the opposite of linkers have animated conversations, big and small implementers get together in the evening, and lots of ideas flow. The SG conferences have been different - more participative, more fun, more honest exchanges, than many other conferences I have attended. 

    This year - as you see above - SG2015 will be in Lusaka Zambia. There are many details still to announce, including the exact dates in November (which will be announced soon). You can sign up to receive regular announcements by clicking here. But now, at least, you can begin to plan - don’t schedule ANYTHING ELSE in NOVEMBER! Tell your friends and family - That’s it! End of story: We’re going to Lusaka!

    Big thanks to SEEP for doing all the hard work of organizing this conference.


    Look Ma - No hands!

    A conversation with my colleague Gena, who is new to Savings Groups:
    Gena: Paul, are you telling me that people just stay in Savings Groups all their lives, just saving and borrowing?
    Paul: Some people do.

    Click to read more ...


    Savings groups and skills development: A pathway for youth economic strengthening

    A recent Microlinks post notes that savings groups – in combination with skills development and entrepreneurial activity – is a promising strategy to build the economic capacity of youth. Plan International’s Youth Microfinance Project (YMF) has demonstrated success in this area through an integrated youth economic empowerment program that has promoted youth savings groups (YSGs) and delivered financial education, life skills and entrepreneurship training to 90,000 youth in West Africa. Evidence of impact and lessons learned are presented here.

    Click to read more ...


    New paper on innumeracy, illiteracy and financial inclusion

    This new paper, Oral Information Management Tools: Lighting the Path to Financial Inclusion, addresses the challenge of innumeracy and illiteracy in financial inclusion, with frequent reference to savings groups. Practitioners know that these constraints can cause people to avoid savings groups, or use them sub-optimally. The paper introduces oral information management (OIM) solutions. It includes examples from Cambodia, Bangladesh and the Solomon Islands, proposes a set of core principles for OIM

    Click to read more ...


    Greeting as a basic human need

    A very poor Malian woman joined Nyesigiso - the big network of cooperatives in Mali that I was then the director of. Remarkably she was able to save some money, and borrowed some also, and went into business. It was a very small business - it started with 1500 francs, about three dollars. The business grew, and she began to acquire some assets and more important, confidence. We wanted to see what the impact of membership was, especially on the businesses of our members, so we brought some consultants in to do a qual-quan impact study. I went out in the field to spend some time with the members, and I met this woman and asked her what had changed in her life. “People greet me now,” was the unexpected response. 

    Click to read more ...