finalbookcoverReviews of In Their Own Hands

Endorsements & praise

Paul Polak, co-author of Out of Poverty and The Business Solution to Poverty and chairman of Windhorse International:

Jeffrey Ashe and Kyla Neilan’s new book, In Their Own Hands, presents a stunningly simple, thoroughly tested, and visionary new way for the poor to save and borrow. In Mali, the outcome was dramatic: less hunger, ownership of more livestock, and more clout for village women. The remarkable difference with savings groups is how they are able to achieve scale—not through building financial institutions as microfinance has done but by catalyzing the problem-solving capacity of the poor. The ideas in this book have the potential to turn the development field on its head.

John Hammock, former executive director of Accion International and Oxfam America:

Since I met Jeff in Ecuador in the ’60s, he’s been turning conventional wisdom on its head. He does this now for the financial sector and for the development community grown too comfortable with in-the-box thinking. The title of the book says it all—In Their Own Hands. Those of us who want to help need to break from the past, trust the impoverished, and get out of the way so that they can em- power themselves to save and be agents of their own development.

Jonathan C. Lewis, founder and chair of MCE Social Capital:

I can think of two good reasons to read In Their Own Hands. One, if you give a damn about extreme poverty, here is another practical tool in the arsenal of financial inclusion. Two, amidst all the chatter about listening to and capturing the wisdom of impoverished communities and indigenous peoples, this book is a road map on how to do it. The author’s economic development career reveals a professional courage from which we can all learn.

John Hatch, founder of FINCA International and co-founder of the Microcredit Summit:

I have known and admired Jeff Ashe for almost forty years. I consider him—along with Muhammad Yunus—one of the most innovative practitioners of the global microfinance movement. He was my principal mentor in developing the methodology of Village Banking. When in the year 2030 the world celebrates the end of severe poverty on our planet, Jeff’s tireless efforts to promote rural savings groups will be heralded as the single most effective, bottom-up strategy for ‘leaving nobody behind.’ And for the next generation of microfinance practitioners, In Their Own Hands will be justly recognized as the best end-poverty textbook ever written.

Kim Wilson, Lecturer, International Business and Human Security, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University:

Most books on community finance are either anthologies or manuals. This one is neither. A radical departure from other works in the field, In Their Own Hands traces the long sweep of financial empowerment via histories viewed through the single lens of one author. The book is essential for any practitioner interested in helping the poor transform small amounts of money into meaningful ways of changing their lives.

Stuart Rutherford, author of The Poor and Their Money, coauthor of Portfolios of the Poor, and founder of SafeSave:

Modern savings groups are an improvement on the self-help tools poor people have always used to manage their money. This short and clearly written book shows how over 100,000 villages in the developing world have come to use and value such groups and why it’s important to spread the message to millions more.

Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University; co-author of co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day and The Economics of Microfinance; and managing director of the Financial Access Initiative:

Sometimes the most powerful ideas are the simplest. This book shows how a simple way for communities to accumulate savings has taken off—with no new technology nor costly microfinance infrastructure. In Their Own Hands turns upside down the most common assumptions about what poor households need and can accomplish.

Mary Houghton, vice chair of Women’s World Banking and cofounder of ShoreBank Corporation:

Microfinance is significantly more effective than most global poverty alleviation efforts. Successes in Latin America and Bangladesh caused social entrepreneurs to try to apply its lessons to support low-income entrepreneurs in the United States. This book documents ways to make capital even more accessible than traditional microcredit by building entirely on the capacities of local community leaders.


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