Founder, VSL Associates
Hugh Allen is a Senior Fellow and has been on the faculty of the Sustainable Microenterprise and Development Program for the past five years. Hugh has taught SMDP workshops in Zanzibar and Arusha, Tanzania, Togo and Ghana. Hugh has worked in development since 1970, focusing for most of the last twenty-two years on microfinance and technology-based market development activities. For thirteen years, he worked for CARE and was its chief technical advisor for small economic activity development in Africa. During this time, he first came across community-managed microfinance and realized its potential to reach the very poor who are, generally, unable to take advantage of standard microfinance services. Since 1999, he has worked independently and exclusively to promote its adoption at a very large scale in Africa.
In 2006, Hugh founded VSL Associates to promote this approach through numerous multi-sectoral development agencies and southern NGOs. These include CARE, CRS, Plan, and World Vision who have all adopted community-managed microfinance as their preferred approach to reaching the rural poor in Africa. He continues to be active in the field and, through VSL Associates, spends at least half of his time managing the SAVIX website and its companion MIS. In addition, Hugh was co-facilitator of the SEEP working group on Savings-led Financial Services and is on the faculty of the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. He has published a Programme Guide on setting up Village Savings and Loan Associations and has also written technical training manuals published by Practical Action publications and contributed to “What’s Wrong With Microfinance.” Mr. Allen has an education degree from Oxford University.