by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Connexus : Issue 36
Trust and a tractor Knach Romeas Savings Bank has come a long way from the days when some members believed their savings were safer in clay piggy banks. By Sally Chapman I t would take a lot of huffing and puffing to blow down Knach Romeas Savings Bank in Cambodia’s Battambang province. Backed by the community’s collective pride and held together by the combined skills of its committee, the bank’s ever more trusting and informed membership is grow ing consistently. The bank has been built to last. Just four years ago, the village of Knach Romeas had no savings bank building. Deposits tended to be kept under the house of a committee member. Some villagers preferred to keep their savings under their bed, buried in the garden or in a clay pig. The situation started to change for the better when the bank met the eligibility criteria for CUFA’s Building Institutional Trust (BIT) program and agreed to aim to increase its membership and savings. In only five months in 2007, the result was 300 new members and deposits worth more than $A8,000. In that same year, the committee oversaw the construction of the bank premises and the entire membership showed up for the opening ceremony. “The bank was soon in a position to direct some of its well- managed surplus into a community project.” Construction underway in 2007 on the new Knach Romeas Savings Bank building in Cambodia. 2010 Cambodian Challenge participants visit the Knach Romeas Savings Bank to see the lasting legacy of CUFA’s commitment to providing villages with a safe place to save. Most importantly, the bank boosted the trust of its members who felt their savings were safe in the strong and sturdy building. The building also gave the committee a professional place to work from. It could meet more regularly, which meant stronger governance and management practices. It could spend less time convincing the community about the physical security of its money, which meant it had more time to explain ‘the credit union difference’. And when members were making a deposit or taking out a loan they could stop to chat w ith the volunteer staff. The whole community could see that Knach Romeas was a professional, well-run savings bank. To cap all this off, there’s the story of the tractor. The bank was soon in a position to direct some of its well-managed surplus into a community project. In a farming community located among rice paddies, what could be more mutually beneficial than a tractor collectively ow ned by its members? The tractor is now hired out at a reduced rate and also proudly used as transportation to and from locations and events – including Knach Romeas Savings Bank annual general meetings. – Sally Chapman was formerly CUFA’s Cambodian project officer. connexus www.abacus.org.au 59