This project, led by GDAE Researcher Jeffrey Ashe, builds on work that analyzes a non-institutional approach to money management at the household and village level. “Savings groups” are a robust, simple catalytic innovation where small groups are trained to manage their own mini-financial institutions. Members save what they can in a communal pot and loan their growing fund to each other for their short-term needs. This method achieves financial inclusion, without financial institutions and at a fraction of the cost of the institutional alternatives, while reaching a population that even the most innovative micro-lenders scarcely touch. Over the past seven years the savings group membership has grown from one to ten million people, and with a modest investment this number could top one hundred million in ten years. What has been learned about disciplined savings and mutual support could be brought to the United Sates, where 67 million are unbanked and under banked.
This project focuses on the following:
- Disseminate knowledge about savings groups.
- Research how established groups train new groups.
- Study the effectiveness of the introduction of savings groups through government programs.
- Assess the success of initiatives using savings groups as a platform to promote smallholder agriculture, health and other development efforts.
- Carry out research on traditional savings clubs in immigrant communities in the United States and launch a pilot project that uses immigrant leaders to introduce this model to non-immigrant communities.
In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups Are Revolutionizing Development by Jeffrey Ashe with Kyla Jagger Neilan, Berrett-Koehler, September 2014
In this book, Ashe and Neilan present a stunningly simply, thoroughly tested, and visionary way for the poor to save and borrow. They show that savings groups can make access to capital even more accessible than traditional microcredit, by building on the capacities of the local community.
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The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.