Street Smarts

Street Smarts

Ever heard of a 13-year-old bank manager?

It’s not an uncommon sight at the Children’s Development Bank (CDB), a unique initiative by the Delhi-based NGO Butterflies that helps street children help themselves. CDB, founded in Delhi in 2001, offers street and working children the opportunity to invest in a different lifestyle.

Fear of theft and lack of future planning have often led working children to spend what little they earn on short-term pleasures, such as cigarettes or cinema tickets. By providing a safe place to hold money, however, CDB encourages them to start a savings habit.

CDB is particularly innovative in the way it is run. It works as a cooperative, in which children are both the owners and decision makers. Rules, membership standards and loan criteria are set by members who are all between the ages of eight and 18. The idea is for kids to "put money aside for themselves without worry that it will be lost or stolen, save for things that they need or want, such as clothes, (and) plan to improve themselves, by saving for education and training."

CDB now boasts more than 8,250 members and operates in 12 locations, including branches in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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