They say the banking system is very complicated, but try telling that to a bunch of Indian street kids who set up a model bank with tens of branches all over South-East Asia.
In order to save money for a brighter future, a group of Indian children have created their own bank, where they can deposit their money and take advances whenever they need to. A branch of this unusual financial institution is located in a shelter for homeless runaway teens in New Delhi. It’s here that street children who work come to place their money for safekeeping, and take out development or welfare advances to start a business or invest in things they need for school. The most impressive thing about this bank for kids and teens is that it was initiated, implemented and is operated by children. In fact, Satish Kumar, who was elected bank manager for the New Delhi branch of the children’s development ‘khazana’ (Indian for ‘treasure chest’) doesn’t look a day over 12.
Photo: Voices of Youth
Mohammad Shah, a 12-year-old bank client who sells water bottles at night, told Russia Today he has so far taken three loans from the children’s bank. “The first time I took 500 rupees to buy the school uniform and other things, the second time I took the advance because my mother was sick. I took 1000 rupees and got the necessary check up done for my mother. The third time I took the advance was because I had to repay some money I had borrowed to help my father open a shop,” he said. The ambitious young man, who was taken in by the shelter and directed toward school, hopes the bank will help him invest in education, so he can ultimately reach his goal of one day becoming a policeman.
Like Mohammed, around 9,000 other kids and teenagers put their trust in the children’s bank and deposit their hard-earned money at its 77 branches all over South-East Asia, in hopes for a brighter future. “They can be the super models in this whole thing because they know how to save money. They know how to utilize money for the best because they learn how to prioritize their needs, which we as adults actually don’t know,” Sharon Jacob from “Butterflies” child rights non-profit organization said. It’s this sense of responsibility and survival that has shocked the adult supervisors of the shelters, who think the world’s international bankers could learn a thing or two from these youngsters.
In a time when the global financial system seems more vulnerable than ever, it looks like a bunch of kids have everything figured out. During monthly meetings they review applications for advances, and based on everyone’s track record of saving and earning, they decide who can get the money and how quickly they have to pay it back. They hold everyone from the account managers to the clients responsible for their financial decisions.