Friday, April 10, 2015
1-2 PM Eastern Time
Savings Groups: A Catalytic Innovation
Guests: Jeffrey Ashe and June Holley
The traditional notion of microcredit is turned on its head when members of small groups begin saving small amounts of money before they borrow. Jeffrey Ashe, already a pioneer in microfinance, brought the idea of savings groups to Oxfam more than a decade ago, and Savings for Change has scaled up, has potential for continued growth, and been one of its most successful development initiatives. In addition to gaining access to financial services in areas as not served by banking institutions, group members build social capital, confidence and resilience that add to community resources. These guests are experienced with community collaboration for local economic development.
Jeffrey Ashe is a Fellow at Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire, Research Fellow for Global Development and the Environment at Tufts University and Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia and Brandeis Universities. Through March 2013 Jeff led Saving for Change at Oxfam America, which grew to 650,000 savings group members in Mali, Senegal, Cambodia, El Salvador and Guatemala. Jeff previously founded and led Working Capital, which was for several years, the largest microfinance institution in the USA. While at Acción International he directed the PISCES studies, the first worldwide study of microfinance, and introduced group lending to Acción in 1981. He has consulted to microfinance projects in more than 30 countries and teaches microfinance at Columbia and Brandeis Universities. Through Carsey, Jeff is bringing savings groups to the USA and will launch new saving group research. His recent book, written with Kyla Jagger Neilan, is “In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups are Revolutionizing Development.”
June Holley has been weaving economic and community networks for more than 25 years. In 1981 she discovered complexity science and became intrigued with the process of transformation. How could communities change in ways that would make them good places for everyone? With others in Appalachian Ohio, she catalyzed cascades of experimentation, observing and documenting the dynamics that enabled many hundreds of people to start and then expand businesses. With these entrepreneurs, she mobilized dozens of area organizations to collaborate, self-organize and create an environment that would help these businesses innovate and work together. After 20 years as executive director of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, she stepped down to help communities around the globe form Smart Networks by training and supporting Network Weavers. She helped clients use Smart Network Analyzer social network mapping software. Her recent Smart Networks projects have involved communities, regions, statewide collaborations, healthcare and hospital systems, and national learning and innovation networks. She is a dynamic keynote speaker and has led hundreds of interactive workshops on applying a network approach. She is working to support infrastructures needed so that networking and self-organizing strategies can expand in groups and communities world-wide.