Thursday, October 14, 2021
In rural Ahero, where we operate the Sponsor A Grandparent program, banks can be inaccessible for older people of low income. High bank fees, interest, and red tape make traditional banks impractical.
JOOT Social Services, under the leadership of Sr Paul and Charles, help facilitate an elder-led community cooperative banking program they call “Table Banking”. Ten groups of roughly 30 elders per group meet weekly to contribute a small amount of funds into their personal account which they will withdraw at the end of the year at 10% interest. Throughout the year, they may also borrow up to 3x the amount held in their account which they must pay back at 10% interest. They hold one another accountable, with little if any default rates. The grandparents use the credit to pay for their grandchildren’s school fees, to buy needed food or medicine, and to purchase items to sell at the local market, like yams, beans, grains, livestock, and even ropes! The program also brings the elders together for support, community, social time, and weekly exercise, with some grandparents walking or cycling up to 6 or 7 kilometers to attend.