Fellow Since 2006
PASECA / KAYES
This profile was prepared when Alou Keita was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Alou has created one of the most successful of Mali’s community managed village banking networks, providing savings, credit and banking facilities for village communities. Unique among other village finance offices, the input of capital from migrant workers in France allows the banks to strengthen villages which have been weakened by emigration and the ripple effects of rural poverty. One of Alou’s key innovations is a money transfer service for those living abroad which offers an effective response to the challenge of sending money home to remote villages. Alou’s village banks (officially known as village finance offices or “caisses”) differ from many other microfinance establishments. They are the only financial institutions in the region of Kayes, Mali, that are completely managed by villagers and do not require a minimum amount of savings in order to qualify for credit. Alou’s Program for Self-managed Savings and Credit Systems (PASECA) is a banking system that preserves traditional elements of village life, such as participatory decision-making through village general assembly meetings and the honor system to aid in loan repayments. The banks also have a built-in community improvement mechanism and mandatory representation of women on their boards. One group of village banks, the first of its kind in Mali, is completely run and managed by women. Each bank is adapted to the needs of the particular community after basic training by Alou’s organization.