Innovation That Matters

Bank run by street kids in New Delhi

Nonprofit & Social Cause

We’ve reported on programs run by banks in the Netherlands and the US that were focused on ‘kidpreneurs’—teaching children basic lessons about money and starting a business. A related and less carefree spotting came in from New Delhi, India, where more than 1,000 street children have joined together to create a bank that helps them manage the small sums they earn each day. Launched in 2001 by a volunteer aid group called Butterflies, the Children’s Development Bank aims to empower children in several important ways. Like any other bank, CDB pays interest on the deposits that New Delhi’s street children make. That interest can be a vital incentive to kids who might otherwise spend their daily earnings on cigarettes, candy or other items—or worse, have their meager profits stolen. Money for the interest comes from the repayment of micro loans made to kids 15 years and older. But interest on income is only part of the picture. While adults stand at the ready to help, CDB is managed by children, helping them gain valuable work skills. Some might argue that children shouldn’t work at all. But CDB’s adult patrons maintain that the economic circumstances in New Delhi and other parts of the world with large populations of street children provide no alternative and that CDB gives these children better control over their lives and earnings. And their idea appears to have legs. Besides India, banks have been organized in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. CDB also has some heavy-hitting international sponsors, including HSBC and Comic Relief. Proof that entrepreneurialism can bring positive change in even the most challenging circumstances? (Related: Mobile school for street kids.) Spotted by: Murtaza Ali Patel



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