Mohammad Nooruddin Amin
This profile was prepared when Mohammad Nooruddin Amin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
The pattern of self-help cooperatives dates far back in Indian history, when villagers took turns grazing one another's cattle or supervising fishing in the village tank. Mohammad Amin is reviving the cooperative approach in a way that addresses the difficulties faced by today's villagers.Mohammad's self-help cooperatives consist of people with a common interestworkers in the same factory or farmers of the same villagewho jointly deposit their savings and are entitled to take loans from that pot for their own immediate needswhether that need be buying medicine for a sick child or investing in the necessary capital to launch a small business. Mohammad has set a rate of interest on savings in the cooperative at more than the bank rate and provided a rate of interest on loans that is less than the bank rate, providing a powerful incentive for people to participate in the cooperatives. But Mohammad's ultimate objective is to broaden the function of the cooperatives beyond these valuable, but limited, financial services. Eventually, Mohammad envisions the cooperatives serving as a social platform where members pool their skills and resources to help one another develop socially and economically. Mohammad will also seek to link his alternative banks to the formal banks once the savings multiply, thus mainstreaming those who would otherwise have been left out of the formal banking structure.In recruiting members from the self-help cooperatives, Mohammad will particularly focus upon women, who have a better history of repayment and are usually the custodians of family savings. Mohammad hopes that this will increase women's access to financial resources and strengthen their own position within their families and the whole community.