I stumbled across an interesting audio about Cambodian credit unions this morning To me, credit unions and similar small scale, people oriented financial institutions seem to be not just Cambodia’s but the world’s best hope for the future. I’m a little disturbed by the bigger banks opening up credit lines for Cambodians, since the American and European examples show what that leads to, but the credit unions seem to be doing it differently.
The Cambodian credit unions Rick Doerksen talks about were started by conglomerations of micro-finance organisations. Their first goal is to provide Cambodians with an alternative to gold and other tangible items for saving. While gold is a time honoured tradition, Doerksen points out that the problem with it is that you have to sell an entire ring or other piece of jewellery even if all you need is X amount of cash to pay for a medical expense or other emergency. Longer term, as savings build, credit unions can give longer term loans at low fixed interest rates.
The audio came as a revelation to me because I’ve been struggling to find ways to save money for my family here in Sihanoukville Cambodia. Saving in my Australian account is useless to them and the interest rate is too low to bother with anyway, but interest rates in riel are pretty good. I think I’ll go look into opening an account at a Sihanoukville Cambodia credit union.
Anyway, click here to listen to the audio. It’s only a few minutes long, but it gives you an inside look at Cambodian credit unions by a guy who really seems to know what he’s doing and cares about this country. If you don’t like clicking links, just copy and paste this url: http://www.coopscanada.coop/en/orphan/meet_rick_doerksen