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Dec 04, 2004
Children’s own bank

About 300 children account holder/ members deposit cash saved from their earnings. 20% of this is loaned out to members for sound business ideas, as long as they have two guarantors. A part of the profit from interest is paid out and the other part rolled into the capital. The bank has two full time managers and a street canvasser promoting the idea among non-members.

It turned out that the greatest relief for children was that there was somewhere they could safe-keep their money. Often they just spent it all, lest the police or pick-pockets should relieve them of it. The bank also has a strict rule of not advancing loans to adults: very often estranged parents show up when they learn their child has put away some money.

Borrowers from CDB have also to fulfil the condition that they continue their education. Life at the shelters is friendly but also disciplined. Children have pooled in and bought themselves a TV and a DVD player, but it is switched off when its time to study or sleep. They run a community kitchen and give themselves inexpensive, nutritious meals. And many have taken to catering as a business. Shelters are for boys only. Rita says that the majority of run-aways are boys. Girls do roam the streets but each invariably returns to a home of sorts. Girls are however, account holders in CDB.

The idea has caught on. The Delhi CDB is a lab from where a replicable model has evolved , complete with registers, passbooks, ID cards and an operation manual. They also impart training and send start up teams. So far there are CDB - Bal Vikas Banks in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, Chennai, Kolkata and Leh, in J&K. CDB has also helped begin similar banks in Nepal and Bangladesh. One is coming up in Afghanistan. Next year, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will join the network. There are enquiries from Iran, Sudan and Central Asia.

Rita has clearly kept her date with those kids she first saw on Mumbai’s trains and fell in love with.

You can learn more from the Butterflies and CDB sites and also from a comprehensive story that has appeared in Civil Society. Or phone Butterflies/CDB at 011-26191063 or write to

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