In Their Own Hands

How Savings Groups are Revolutionizing Development

Jeffrey Ashe (Author) | Kyla Jagger Neilan (Author) | Frances Moore Lappé (Foreword by)

Publication date: 09/15/2014

In Their Own Hands
A better way to fight poverty: Ashe and Neilan show that savings groups are simple, extremely low cost, self-managing and spread virally "there are savings groups in 100,000 villages in 65 countries Sponsored by Oxfam America: This book was developed wit
  • A better way to fight poverty: Ashe and Neilan show that savings groups are simple, extremely low cost, self-managing and spread virally-there are savings groups in 100,000 villages in 65 countries
  • Sponsored by Oxfam America: This book was developed with Oxfam America, part of an international coalition of Oxfams operating in 90 countries-in 2005 Ashe and Oxfam, with their partner Freedom from Hunger, pioneered a program to expand savings groups worldwide.

Two and a half billion people worldwide, too poor and too rural to be served by traditional financial institutions desperately need a better way to save and borrow. Jeffrey Ashe and Kyla Jagger Neilan say the answer is savings groups.

In savings groups, members put what they can in a communal pot and make loans to individual members for needs like buying food to survive the "lean season" before the harvest, building a business, investing in livestock, or paying school fees. Once a year, the entire pot plus interest on loans is divided among the members. Unlike other poverty alleviation options, savings groups are run entirely by their members, and, they spread by word of mouth from village to village, allowing them to reach remote areas with remarkable success. By catalyzing the problem-solving capacity of the poor they avoid subsidies, debt, dependency, and high costs while reducing hunger and building assets and solidarity.

Ashe and Neilan show that applying savings group principles could revolutionize development in areas as diverse as health, agriculture, education and grassroots political empowerment. "Being organized gives us courage," as one woman said. It is their courage translated into action that explains the success of "in their own hands" development.

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Book Details
Overview
A better way to fight poverty: Ashe and Neilan show that savings groups are simple, extremely low cost, self-managing and spread virally "there are savings groups in 100,000 villages in 65 countries Sponsored by Oxfam America: This book was developed wit
  • A better way to fight poverty: Ashe and Neilan show that savings groups are simple, extremely low cost, self-managing and spread virally-there are savings groups in 100,000 villages in 65 countries
  • Sponsored by Oxfam America: This book was developed with Oxfam America, part of an international coalition of Oxfams operating in 90 countries-in 2005 Ashe and Oxfam, with their partner Freedom from Hunger, pioneered a program to expand savings groups worldwide.

Two and a half billion people worldwide, too poor and too rural to be served by traditional financial institutions desperately need a better way to save and borrow. Jeffrey Ashe and Kyla Jagger Neilan say the answer is savings groups.

In savings groups, members put what they can in a communal pot and make loans to individual members for needs like buying food to survive the "lean season" before the harvest, building a business, investing in livestock, or paying school fees. Once a year, the entire pot plus interest on loans is divided among the members. Unlike other poverty alleviation options, savings groups are run entirely by their members, and, they spread by word of mouth from village to village, allowing them to reach remote areas with remarkable success. By catalyzing the problem-solving capacity of the poor they avoid subsidies, debt, dependency, and high costs while reducing hunger and building assets and solidarity.

Ashe and Neilan show that applying savings group principles could revolutionize development in areas as diverse as health, agriculture, education and grassroots political empowerment. "Being organized gives us courage," as one woman said. It is their courage translated into action that explains the success of "in their own hands" development.

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