Friends Help Friends
Friends Helps Friends is a saving group comprised mainly by the CAN youth network members. The idea to establish a saving group was exposed first by me to Kok Tha and his colleagues in 2009. After visiting the saving association of Mr. Sar Ouch by Kok Tha, sometime in 2009, the group was initially founded on November 9, 2009. It was our Independence Day. May be the FHF founding members thought this day as an important one for starting a self-reliant saving group. Not a bad idea!
10 Members (of which 3 females) decided to create and joined the group. They discussed and created simple rules for their saving group and started with 200 USD as first saving capital. Today, exactly one year after its existence, the group has expanded to 46 members (16 females) with the saving capital growth to 9,089.58 USD, a remarkable growth! 45 times in term of capital and 4.6 times in term of members. The youngest is 13 years old, David, the youngest brother of Nana. It is obvious that I am the oldest member in the group. I joined the group several months ago to help boosting the momentum and providing moral support to the group. It is an opportunity for me to save the money with group too.
This morning, they have had a regular monthly meeting and first anniversary at the same time. I was invited to join and share some impression with the group. They also took time for sharing personal reflection of its members: what are the benefits of becoming FHF’s member? What have you contributed to the success and growth of the group? What did you learn and share during the meeting? What will we do next? What kind of difficulty we are facing as a group? What did you do with the money you borrowed? How we would like to manage our saving group? They did also allow 6 new members to join after all members present agreed.
At the end of the meeting, the committee members have prepared an anniversary’s cake (like birthday’s cake) and some air balloons to celebrate together. I have observed that all are very happy in sharing their impression, in joining the meeting, in celebrating together and in seeing their group keeps growing. The vision of having reached 10,000 USD by the end of the year, a goal set at the beginning of the year, will be easily reached. I am very happy too to see young Cambodians take their future in own hands, trying to do something on its own ability, trying to help each other and learning to manage their affairs by doing it practically. FHF helps to build more trust among its members and one smaller part of the society. Moreover, Mr. Kok Tha and his committee members take a leading role to supervise other youth saving groups and they have successfully created a federation of youth saving groups. They can help each other in case of cash transfer and urgent credit needs of the other association members.
It is another practical example on what we can do to strengthen the social capital in our society. I have also shared my thought on “how useful a saving group could be” for further reading.