Empowering Villagers in Thailand

In February 2011 Good Paper visited Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in Thailand and had the opportunity to look at some of their projects.

Village Development Bank

PDA uses a holistic Village Development Partnership framework to lift villages out of poverty. Villagers will plant trees to earn seed capital from a donor organisation which is used to create a Village Development Bank. The bank is managed by a committee comprising of villagers. The villagers are trained in basic finance.

The Village Development Bank offers loans at 1% interest per month and the loans can only be used for setting up income generating enterprises such as cricket farming and lime tree plantations. Half of the profits from the bank are used to develop public community facilities that the village has decided to do.

This scheme solves some the administrative burdens that are imposed on traditional social microfinance institutions as there is no longer a need to service inaccessible borrowers. Creating banking facilities for hundreds of people at a village justifies an initial investment that would not be possible when only several people borrow money.

Village Toy Library

Children love to borrow from a Village Toy Library which stocks donated toys, books, games, bicycles and in some cases computers. The library is managed by a committee of children who develop the management skills that will serve them in their adulthood.

Toy Love

To borrow from the library the village children must do communal volunteer work such as picking rubbish, gardening and cleaning communal areas. This concept of Community Currency is the engine by which children develop the lifelong habit of giving back.

Community Currency

Community currency is useful for building a stronger community as there is a need to recognise community currency. It helps facilitate community growth when the community does not have access to legal tender.