Stuart Rutherford

Stuart Rutherford, the originator of the ‘financial diaries’ research methodology, is a researcher, writer, practitioner and teacher. His books "The Poor and Their Money" and the co-authored "Portfolios of the Poor" describe how poor people around the world manage their money. "The Pledge" tells the story of the emergence and growth of microfinance in Bangladesh, in the form of a biography of ASA, a major Bangladeshi microfinance organization. He has also written many journal articles.

As a practitioner Rutherford has tried to put into practice some of the ideas in his written work. In Bangladesh in 1996, he set up SafeSave, the world’s first microfinance organization aimed at helping poor people with basic money management (as opposed, say, to microenterprise development). He taught for several years at the Boulder Microfinance Training Course and at Southern New Hampshire, and is a Fellow at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, UK. His consultancy clients include many local and international NGOs, bilateral and multinational donors, and philanthropic trusts like the Ford and Gates foundations.

Rutherford was educated at Cambridge University and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, but has lived most of his life abroad, including 16 years in Bangladesh. He is currently based in Japan, where his wife teaches at a development studies institute.

By Stuart Rutherford


How Bangladesh Democratized Its Savings Culture

Bangladesh may be best known within financial inclusion circles as the birthplace of modern microcredit. But it has also democratized savings by developing formal savings instruments that are used today by many of the country’s poorest households.

When Savings Aren’t Enough: How Low-Income Bangladeshis Use Loans

Today, some 25 million Bangladeshis borrow from microfinance institutions. Financial diaries from central Bangladesh show how poor people are using their loans, from coping with emergencies to on-lending to others.

Daily Diaries Reveal Bangladesh’s Shifting Financial Landscape

In Bangladesh, 50 respondents are providing full daily details of all transactions in an ongoing financial diaries project. This project aims to provide insights into the money management behavior of low-income rural Bangladeshis. What have the diaries revealed so far?

Why Some Bangladeshis Don’t Love Their MFIs

A series of 43 household interviews in rural Bangladesh uncovered the complex financial lives of the interviewees and their seemingly souring view of MFIs.

A Microcredit Crisis Averted: The Case of Bangladesh

After years of strong growth, the microfinance industry in Bangladesh was on the verge of a sharp change in direction, when the big 4 MFIs began to cut back on branches and staff in 2008.