(Tues. July 10th)
Today I had the privilege of learning about a village lending system called the Bankless Bank (Mafi Tsati Fafali), which is truly like a micro-credit union. Becoming a member of the Bankless Bank is voluntary and all who join (currently approximately 30 members) contribute a small amount to this common cash “savings account” when they join. The group meets once a week, at which time each member contributes what they can, and if they have nothing to contribute there is no penalty. Records are kept in small, green notebooks–one for each member. Those members who need a loan, can borrow up to three times what they have put into the pot, have one month to pay it back, and repay it with a 5% penalty. For example, if someone has put a total of 100GH (Ghanian cedis), he or she can borrow up to 300GH, but must repay 315GH within the month. When someone is sick, they can borrow and pay back without interest. The total earnings from this group account is divided among its members (not sure how often…) At the end of each weekly meeting, the money in the community “account” is placed in a safe box with three padlocks and three members are asked to each lock one of the locks and be responsible for the key until the next meeting. Anyone interested in starting one with me?