The Oldest Group in the World

The Oldest Group in the World

Yesterday (Feb 14 2017) I chanced upon this group in Tiliberi Niger. It’s called Bonkaney which means “Good luck!” And they must have had some good luck along the way - they were formed by Plan International’s excellent local partner GAMA in 2009, and they are in their 16th cycle. They seem to be destined for many more years together: membership is stable, savings are strong, no reported problems.

By coincidence, I just came across an article about a remarkable 105 year old who had set a record for distance cycled in his age category. In fact, he is the only cyclist in his age category.  He is clearly an outlier. But is an eight year old Savings Group an outlier? I don't think it is as exceptional as a 105 year old biccylist, but I wish we had more information about group longevity. Do you know any older groups? Please let us know if you do... 

Now - it's important to note that this group still has its original trainer, who keeps the books and helps the groups at share-out time. In return the members give him some money every week when he coms. On the other hand, I have no advice to give them; when a group is in its 16th cycle, all I can do is congratulate it

 French cyclist Robert Marchand, 105, who set a record for distance cycled in one hour, near Paris in January

French cyclist Robert Marchand, 105, who set a record for distance cycled in one hour, near Paris in January

Oh, confession: I called this article "The Oldest Group in the World" to have a snappy headline. My bad. It is not the oldest group in the world. But I am confident that the oldest project-formed savings group in the world IS somewhere here in Niger where I am writing this, since CARE formed so many MMD groups in the 1990s, before they spread to Zimbabwe and Tanzania and Uganda. But what is their survival rate and which is the very oldest? I know from other research that a lot of them broke up after CARE and Danida led many of the MMDs into ill-conceived credit linkages with expensive MFIs. But - many groups survived that storm.  

If you are interested in the early days of Savings Groups, I recommend this interview with some of the women who got them started, called How it all began....

Return to 'Tool vs. Machine'

Return to 'Tool vs. Machine'

The First Five Minutes

The First Five Minutes