This personal narrative of the benefits of group saving and borrowing is written by Ms. Hemani Singh
Living in a middle class family isn’t easy.
Only a person living in one can understand the amount of sacrifices one has to make to get by in life. As someone who grew up in a middle class family, I understand that fact better than anyone. When your main goal is to have enough money to provide 3 meals a day for a month, you have just enough motivation to consider the possibilities of living an extravagant life, but in reality you don’t get to live one.
Ever since I was little I remember my mom was always invested in something called ‘BC’ or Beesi or Beeshi as some of the other aunties would call it. Though no one knew what it really meant, some women explained that BC stands for Back Cash. It is a form of investment that allowed women from lower and middle classes to get access to a larger sum of money by regularly investing smaller amounts in a trusted, money pooling format.
Back in the days it was all unorganized. My mom and her friends trusted each other to not default and pay the money on time so that someone could borrow it to meet their goals. It was a simple system where whoever bid the lowest would win. And in case no one bid, the entire money would be given to some lucky woman whose name was picked out in a chit system. My mom initially started by participating in the shorter period BCs – ranging from 6-10 months or even a year.
In my household, having extra money to spend on what we wanted was not a normal occurrence. As a child I never understood why my mom put all our extra income in this scheme. This one time when I was probably 12 year old, I remember we could have used our money to go for a vacation in Shimla. At the time I really didn’t care for savings or explanations from my mom. Because my family didn’t take many vacations, it was a dream which I badly wanted to come true. All the money which we could use was given to other women who had their own needs. But my mom on the other hand insisted that it was for the best. I didn’t want the best, I wanted to have a vacation.
I didn’t completely understand her insistence until much later.
After graduation, I decided to get an MBA. I even made it into a good college! But the joy of having been selected was ruined by the reality of the course cost. The fees were over 12 Lakhs to be precise!
However, my family didn’t have that kind of money – it was worth a fortune for us. Not one to give up, I started looking at the options of a loan. But educational loans are as expensive as they come. With an interest rate of 15% it became a difficult choice, because taking a loan meant burdening myself in the first few years of my career – when the pay isn’t really very great. I didn’t want to burden my parents either. I was beginning to lose hope and was doubting my ability to pay that kind of amount.
I can borrow from my group!
My answer didn’t come until a month before the payment deadline, when my mom suddenly said, “I have some money that I can borrow from my group”. And out of nowhere, I managed to pay the first instalment of my education. It was that simple.
I hadn’t prepared for this day, but my mom had. I am thankful to her for thinking ahead and planning for my future. She invested in her BC for short terms to pay all my instalments and due to that I was able to get a decent education that will help me to uplift my family. All my dreams were made possible because of all the sacrifices my mom made for me.
She has been investing in these saving and borrowing groups for over 15 years now and she still continues to do so. It was only after this experience that I looked back on our life and it made me realize that our standard of living has increased over the years – thanks to my mom. And thanks to this wonderful group format of financing!
KyePot offers the first digital BC (beeshi, kuri, chitty, committee, chits) app to help you achieve your goals. You can participate in this government registered and regulated form of group financing easily by downloading the app here.