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Archive for the ‘The village’ Category

The cashless village: in a pre-cash village like this (Solomon Islands), value is not stored in currency. Villagers don’t depend on cash to exchange value, either.

In The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers – and the Coming Cashless Society (Da Capo Press, Boston MA, 2012) David Wolman seeks not the end of money generally but specifically the end of paper cash – the sooner the better.

 

He spends a year living without cash – those germ-infested, cocaine-smudged notes – and (more…)

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If elite capture is such a serious threat, how was it dealt with during the microfinance revolution in Europe? F.W. Raiffeisen addressed this risk directly: he asked village elites to play leadership roles in the cooperatives – but to derive no material benefit from them.

In speeches he emphasized religious duties of charity and responsibility to community, and encouraged the villagers to elect leading individuals to the board, conditional on their character. Board positions received no compensation. Raiffeisen (more…)

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Saving at home is convenient, private and predator-free.

In a study of 301 households that belonged to village financial institutions (VFIs) in 37 villages in Cambodia, my team from the Canadian Co-operative Association asked what would cause them to deposit more savings? By far the strongest response was: “the managers must show more respect for the rules.” (Towards Safety & Self-Reliance, p. 51.)

The rules to which they referred were not complex: they expected the managers to refrain from (more…)

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At the Arusha Savings Group Summit, Bram Thuysbaert (Yale) and Beniamino Savonitto from Innovations for Poverty Action presented early evidence from a 2-year study of the impact of CARE’s savings associations (VSLAs) in Uganda, using randomized control trials. The results were unexpected.

The study compared ‘treatment’ villages where savings associations had been formed with ‘control’ villages where they had not. Conference delegates were told that members’ investments (more…)

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In Asia's villages, girls often wear gold. Photo credit: Vincent Johnson

A few years ago, in a small village in Kampong Chhnang, I met Ms. Cheng Yeng. In her early 40s and mother of 3 grown children, Ms. Cheng was clearly an excellent household money manager – bright, articulate, and shrewd. She told me that she uses cash earned after her rice and palm sugar harvests to buy gold, last year at $38.50 per chi.

Yet in the months before the harvest (more…)

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A village finance leader draws a calendar of member cash demand, Cambodia.

The modern view of time is neatly summed up by Max Weber in the The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Weber quotes Benjamin Franklin, the sage of American capitalism, on the logic that built the American economy.

“Remember, time is money.”

“He that spends a groat a day idly, spends idly above six pounds a year, which is the price of the use of one hundred pounds.

(more…)

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Time to take the fish to market.

Microfinance depends vitally on a modern cultural value that drives the global economy: the time-value of money. Microfinance practices work where this value is already well developed. The poorest parts of the world, almost by definition, are those where this value is not well understood.

Take Lawino for example: (more…)

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As observed by communications theorist Walter Ong, villagers in oral communities often don’t trust written text.

Ong cites a study of community decision-making from 12th century England. (Orality and Literacy, p. 95). Writing already had a long history in England, (more…)

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In 2002 I visited Ashrai, an NGO in northwest Bangladesh that was forming savings-financed ‘self-help groups’ among some of the world’s poorest women. I was referred to Ashrai by Stuart Rutherford, and I was writing an article about them for a microfinance journal.

Empowering women?

Picture this: it is mid-day in a Naogaon village, and a group of 20 women are seated in a loose square on woven bamboo mats. Clean, brightly coloured saris are draped over their shoulders, and flow down their legs.

(more…)

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