Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Build Microsavings

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9781565493407: Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Build Microsavings
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* Balanced assessment of recent savings-led programs in microfinance
* Contributors include wide range of scholars and practitioners

The entry of the private sector into financial services for the poor is a relatively new development, but already the glossy promises of credit-led microfinance are facing scrutiny from the development community. Policymakers and economists have begun picking through the hype of microfinance to identify where and how top-down loans might fit into broader human development efforts. To many, the answer involves shifting focus to another financial service: savings. Serving as a strong and perhaps more effective tool than microcredit, microsavings is quickly becoming a lauded poverty-alleviation tool.

Contributors to Financial Promise for the Poor cover current innovations in microsavings happening around the world. They describe how savings group members in the developing world are avoiding many of the financial liabilities and debt of other microfinance programs while gaining skills and finding opportunities in collective enterprise. The turn from credit to savings speaks to the growing empowerment of individuals and communities as they break the bonds of indebtedness and find their own paths to financial security.

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About the Author:

Malcolm Harper taught at Cranfield School of Management until 1995, and since then has worked mainly in India. He has published on enterprise development and microfinance. He was Chairman of Basix Finance from 1996 until 2006, and is Chairman of M-CRIL, the microfinance credit rating agency and business development, and author of numerous books and articles. He is the co-editor of What's Wrong with Microfinance? (Practical Action, 2007).

Kim Wilson is a lecturer at The Fletcher School and a Fellow with the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. Spending time in India beginning in 2001 through 2005, Professor Wilson worked closely with savings groups, connecting them to banks with a particular focus on tribal areas. She has worked for Catholic Relief Services heading their Microfinance Unit, and in that tenure, spearheaded CRS' shift from focusing on credit to the poor to savings of the poor. Professor Wilson has consulted for many international agencies in savings and credit. Previously, she was in the private sector, occupying senior management positions in finance and franchising.

Matthew Griffith is an independent consultant focusing on community finance and livelihoods. He has worked with marginalized communities in Russia, the United States and Ethiopia. Most recently, he worked with the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University on a project focusing on the financial resilience of disaster-affected populations. He received a Masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Review:

“Provides a useful overview of the current state of practice in an expanding field of approaches that is promoting the savings-led model. It usefully highlight the key questions and issues that this field is currently discussing.”

“Savings groups are the core engine of financial assets for the poor and this book gives us a rare view of them that cuts across geography, structures and degrees of institutionalization. This collection provides an honest view of savings groups—what they are and what they are not—and as such offers readers a perspective of how these important mechanisms fit within the financial lives of the poor.”

“Rich in interesting examples of both traditional and NGO facilitated savings groups. I would particularly highlight the thought provoking and important questions raised in the last chapters. The editors remind us that there is no magic bullet to resolving poverty, and that we as practitioners must remain sober about our role and the effects of our interventions. A most welcome contribution to the field!”

“Microfinance started with a common vision to improve economic opportunity for the poor, but that vision has become blurred in recent years, with some now seeing microfinance as just another business market. This book takes a refreshing look at how local systems of savings and lending, though extremely simple, bring the industry back on track.”

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