The Global Development And Environment Institute



Search GDAE

Subscribe for
E-mail Updates

Leontief Prize

Recent Publications

Media Room

Upcoming Events

Publicaciones en Español

Publications en Francais

Publications in Chinese

Jobs and Resources


Globalization Research

Global Food Crisis
- Right to Food
- Revaluing Smallholder Farms
- Beyond Agricultural Subsidies
- Feeding the Factory Farm

Reforming US Trade Policy
- Lessons from NAFTA
- Reforming US FTAs
- WTO and Global Trade
- Modeling Policy Reform

Foreign Investment
- Foreign Direct Investment
- Capital Flows
- Treaty Reform

China & Latin America

Microfinance / Savings Groups

Working Group on Latin Am.
- Environment
- Foreign Investment
- Agriculture
- China in Latin America

Globalization Home
- About
- Publications Library
- Researchers

Globalization Media
- Multimedia
- In the News
- Columns & Commentaries

Read the Triple Crisis Blog

Subscribe for Updates

Follow us on Facebook

In Their Own Hands:

Building on Local Traditions to Research and Initiate Locally Controlled, Low Cost, Mass-Scale Approaches to Poverty Alleviation

Timothy A. WiseThis 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:

  1. Disseminate knowledge about savings groups.
  2. Research how established groups train new groups.
  3. Study the effectiveness of the introduction of savings groups through government programs.
  4. Assess the success of initiatives using savings groups as a platform to promote smallholder agriculture, health and other development efforts.
  5. Research traditional savings clubs in immigrant communities in the U.S. and launch a pilot project that uses immigrant leaders to introduce this model to non-immigrant communities.


The Long-Term Survival and Growth of Savings Groups in Nepal Jeffrey Ashe and Achyut Hari Aryal, March 2017

In Their Own HandsIn 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.


Jeffrey AsheJeffrey Ashe interviewed by NextBillion
In this frank interview on April 7 2016, microfinance pioneer-turned-savings group advocate Jeffrey Ashe discusses the history of the savings group model, how it improves upon microfinance – and why it doesn't get as much attention.


Learn more about GDAE's Globalization and Sustainable Development Program
See full library of Globalization Program publications

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.

Tufts University Logo

Global Development And Environment Institute
Tufts University
44 Teele Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144 USA
Tel: 617-627-3530 | Email:

Copyright © 2002 – Tufts University