Do you SuSu?
It could happen again
What the Immagrents have right.
Have you ever wondered how some immagrants manage to open businesses after being in this country for a very short amount of time? I imagined that they were working for cash, living in an over crowded apartment, and borrowing money from a seedy godfather figure from whatever ethnic group they belong to. It seemed to give them some sort of unfair advantage over regular Americans who had to get financing the old fashioned way, loans and mortgages. We've all joked about the middle eastern convenience stores and the Korean liquor stores, and of course the New York taxi drivers are always good for a few one liners. So how do these immigrants really get the start up funds?
The answer is as simple as a four letter word, and not a swear word either. The answer is Susu! The word "susu" come from the Yoruba tribe in Africa.It means rotate the pot. It is a way for a group of people to pool their funds and help each member in their group one at a time. This is very common in Ghana and throughout the Caribbean. More recently, some communities in the U.S. have started susu co-ops .
It works like this: a group or 5 or more people come together in agreement to pool a certain amount of money together every week or month. The members then each get the collected funds once. Let's say my office decides to form an inner office susu. First we would pick a manager. For this example I will use my boss M. as manager. Every Monday before the close of business, each member of our susu needs to give M. the agreed upon weekly amount, say $20. So L., B., E., M., and I put in our $20. M. takes the $100 and puts it in the office safe. On Friday close of business, M. takes that $100 and gives it to a predetermined member. Now that member goes home with $100. Next week the process is repeated and the next member "up" takes the susu home. Really each member doesn't make money in a susu, but each member takes a turn getting a larger amount of money once in the susu rotation. Of course most susu co-ops put in much more than $20 a week. Some susu co-ops have a weekly pay in of $500 or more with 10-15 people in the rotation. If 15 people put $500 into the pot a week, at least once in the 15 week cycle, each member would have a week where they took home $7500.00. Enough for leasing a business or a down payment on a taxi.
Of course trust and social pressure are the only ways to enforce the "spirit" of susu. Even the 1st member who gets the 1st pay out must stay and pay the weekly amount until the end of the rotation. Imagine if families did this, co-workers did this, book clubs...etc. It is something to think about when trying to raise money for a new apartment or car, or even college.
If my family did it with just $10 a week, the weekly susu pot would be $360. Maybe that's not life changing but it would cover at least 1 maybe 2 bills. And for 36 weeks we would be helping each other. Not to mention reconnecting with each other. These tough economic times require creative thinking. 2011 could be the year of the susu.