|Quelle politique d'épargne dans les systèmes d'épargne-crédit ? Au Cambodge et au Viet-nam, GRET, 1996|
|Where does saving fit into micro-finance systems?|
|Part two: The question of savings in micro-finance systems|
" Preliminary savings
Here, resources are built up beforehand by collecting deposits. Loans are awarded from deposits. Savings are generally mobilised over a period of several months before the first loans can be distributed.
This principle generally allows loans to be partially or totally guaranteed by the collateral of the savings. Based on hot money, it is a priori the most likely to encourage the beneficiaries to appropriate schemes. For the same reason, it should also enable bad debts to be kept down. This system is used by the credit-savings cooperatives (COOPEC) which are found in many African countries.
" Compulsory or obligatory savings
When conditions suited to voluntary and preliminary savings are lacking, various procedures can be devised to mobilise the structure's own resources: membership fees from the borrowers during the month preceding the award of a first loan, levies on loans, compulsory savings from a proportion of the profits generated by the family, etc.
The Grameen Bank provides the most significant example of a compulsory savings mobilisation. The cumulative sum of savings (including the group reserve fund) amounted to 103,72 million dollars in August 1995 over the whole network. It is therefore an extremely important reference with regard to savings mobilisation in rural areas, and moreover from the poorest population of the rural world.
In fact, the system consists in operating a series of levies, which are justified by presenting them as building up a "group reserve fund", a capital sum intended to be used in emergencies by the borrowers. This takes two forms:
- One in the form of individual savings deposited each week with the scheme and which is fed into the groupie reserve fund;
- The other in the form of a levy at source, a compulsory deduction of 5% of the total loan, which is also fed into the group reserve fund. This levy is known as the "group tax", clearly reflecting the compulsory nature of the operation. Borrowers do not pay interest on this tax.
Clients can recover their individual savings at any time.
The problem this practice raises, and which moreover makes it morally questionable in nature, is that the declared rates of interest on the credit in reality mask higher actuarial rates on the. loan. Thus in Cambodia, for declared rates of between 3 and 8% per month depending on the operators, the actuarial rates would be between 3 and 18% per month (source: Horus Banque et Finance: feasibility study for a rural and decentralised credit project in Cambodia).
" Post-loan voluntary savings
One can also take the view that it is the added value created by the utilisation of the loan which enables savings to be built up (credit-made deposits). In this event, credit precedes savings. The initial resource will be an external one. Deposits can subsequently complement or replace it.
When there is no internal confidence, for example when peasants have been plundered in the past, preliminary loans enable conditions of confidence to be patiently rebuilt and clients can gradually become depositors subsequently.