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Posts Tagged ‘oral culture’

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.

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During one of my quarterly visits to the Far North Credit Union, I was intrigued to discover the note “QF” next to several loans recorded in the cash book.  I was told these were “quick fire” loans, made without any written record and no collateral, to a maximum of $50.  When I asked where the idea had come from, I was told it had been given to them by New Zealand’s credit union pioneer — Colin Smith — during a training workshop.

Formal speaking is a powerful living tradition

Horrified at the idea of a loan of any size being made without a signed contract (and the subsequent default levels!) — and knowing that Colin, a chartered accountant, would never countenance such a thing — I tracked down the origins of their innovation to a presentation he had given on improving members’ experience of the loan

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Rural villages in the developing world are oral cultures; that is cultures in which the technologies of literacy (especially writing and print) are unfamiliar to most people.

Kraing Tbong Village Bank, Takeo

A village bank in Cambodia

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Loan Contract Chambak Village Cambodia

Why are there not finger-counting icons and/or tallies (see right) on every passbook owned by every illiterate client in microfinance?

This small change could make microfinance more comfortable for poor borrowers and poor savers, and contribute in a small way towards our shared goal of ‘access for all’. (more…)

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