Read any of the standard manuals on forming Savings Groups, and they will tell you how to compute interest on people's savings at the annual share-out, or the distribution of all the group's resources at the end of the cycle.
Usually, they will say, Give each member their savings back, and then split up the pool of interest earning and fines collected in proportion to people's savings. This is the way most groups are taught to compute share-out, and it's logical, isn't it? The biggest savers get a little more. Oh, I know, the rich get richer, but they have put their money at risk, and locked it up in the box for a year, and they should be rewarded. Makes sense?
Well, not to everyone. There are at least three alternate ways of computing share-out. If they sound strange to you, well - they don't sound strange to the group members, and I for one will never tell them to do things differently.
Some groups, after giving each member their own savings back. take all the interest and other income, and divide it into equal shares, one share for each member, regardless of what they have saved. I don't think this is as good an incentive to save as Standard Distribution, but it has the advantage of being easier to calculate. I just worked with a program in the Sahel where many groups do flat distribution despite the program's efforts to get the groups to do share out "right". I urged the program staff to offer Flat distribution as an option, particularly to groups that were going to struggle to learn the Standard distribution method.
Return Interest to Member
My colleague Chipili Mwaba from FSD Zambia mentioned a group she saw last week which keeps a record of the interest paid by each member. At share-out time, each member gets the interest they have paid back. Chipili asked about that, and the members said, "We put that money in. Why should we share it with the other members?" For you Americans, we can also call that "Republican Interest".
If the preceding is the Republican method, this is the Bernie method, or actually much further to the left. And - yes, really - I saw this in two separate groups in Niger: Members take all the interest and all the savings, put it in a big pot, divide it into equal shares, and give one share to each member. When asked why they did it this way, they said, "We are like a family. We share."
All of these strategies have a perfectly understandable narrative backing them up: "Why should I share my money with someone else?" "That's the way we were taught to do it!" "It's easier!" "We are like a family". It is said that the story that we tell about our lives and the world determine what we do. This certainly seems to be the case in computing interest at shareout.