Tandas have become a real alternative to banks for immigrants. Thanks to these, many of them can achieve those dreams that motivated them to leave their countries.
The cultural diversity that the planet presents leads us to situations as strange as they are curious. In my research processes, where I try to know all the aspects that are related to economics, I discover phenomena that, being completely rudimentary, substantially attract my attention. Phenomena that, given the need of the human being and his ingenuity to get ahead, happen. Also becoming a common practice that, on many occasions, becomes a real alternative.
With globalization, immigration began to be an increasingly practiced phenomenon. Today, in the United States, 14% of the population was not born in the country. This figure, a few years ago, stood at 5%, so its growth, as we see, has been very remarkable. And it is that, year after year, the United States receives more than 800,000 immigrants, who, in search of a better life and the prosperity that the North American country promises, decide to leave their countries and head to the promised land. Especially from Mexico, its neighbor and main commercial partner, also of immigrants.
However, the arrival of immigrants, on many occasions, occurs irregularly. In other words, the immigrants who arrive do so without papers that guarantee their legal presence in the country. This, on many occasions, hinders the daily life of the immigrant, who does not find any subsidy, beyond the informal economy and what this means for him and his rights. Situations in which, in order to favor the adaptation of the immigrant and their stay in the new destination, the greatest support is found in the immigrant community itself.
The immigrant problem
One of the main problems an immigrant encounters when he or she arrives in the United States is the visa. The inability to have a business visa or permanent residence hinders the ability to find a job in the country. By not having a social security number, as well as the relevant requirements to be able to apply for a job in the country, the immigrant is condemned to economic informality, so the ability to have basic services in the country is limited to the purchasing power that it already had previously.
Among other factors, we should not forget factors such as access to healthcare, banking services, as well as other services that, in any developed economy, would be considered basic services. Some services that the immigrant, in addition to the previously mentioned factor, does not have. And we are talking about some factors that, being in the informal economy, prevent the performance of such basic tasks as hiring a loan, for example, to buy a car.
But, in addition, it should be noted that we are talking about a country in which being an immigrant is not the only factor to take into account, but rather that, as we know, access to certain services, such as education and health, requires a high purchasing power that, in many cases, is not available. In turn, on the other hand, those who have the ability to provide us with the capital we need, the banks, have, and not only for immigrants, very limited access to money and credit; even more than in other rich countries.
For this reason that we comment, about 7% of Americans, as of 2017, did not have any type of bank account. According to the World Bank, and establishing parameters for comparison, less than 1% presented by Canada, and less than 4% presented by the United Kingdom. In this context, in the same year, a quarter of American adults, more than 80 million people, were unbanked or underbanked, which means that they do not have bank accounts or that, as is the case of immigrants , they are forced to use alternative services to have sufficient financial access to be able to fulfill their objectives or obligations.
And it is that, these alternative services have been originated by the immigrants themselves. Which, in this situation, have become an emergency lifesaver.
A useful and effective tool
What we are discussing is what happens with rotating savings and credit associations, or threads. Tandas, as these associations are called in Mexico, are an alternative system that allows, especially these immigrants, access to credit with the mutual support of the community to which they belong or, sometimes, the family itself. These batches have become a real option, an alternative, without a doubt, to the traditional bank and the loans granted therein.
To get an idea, the operation of the batches is quite simple, but very practical at the same time. In these, the participants contribute a fixed sum each, which is allocated to a common fund on a regular and periodic basis. A lump sum that goes to one member each round, until everyone is paid. This means that members recover their contribution during the course of the plan, but by obtaining it all at once, the amount allows the making of purchases, investments, as well as debt payments that, in another situation and without the ability to access such batches could not be allowed.
Members who get their batch, at the beginning, are effectively receiving an interest-free loan. On the other hand, those who receive theirs later, throughout the cycle, are basically withdrawing an amount of accumulated cash that has been saved over time. A loan and savings strategy that consists of a circular system, where the only disadvantage, if it is to be considered that way, is based on the mistrust that may arise; distrust that, when dealing with families and friends, goes unnoticed.
As is known, and despite the fact that we refer to the Hispanic community in the United States, this type of system has worked very well, also, in communities of Asian origin. Loans between individuals are very frequent in Chinese culture, when you come to another country, especially, and you want to open a business to cover the expenses. An alternative system that is valid on an entire planet, despite that simplicity and rudimentary character that we highlighted. Well, on many occasions, and as many economists in the country defend, for immigrants it is the only viable option, taking into account said limitation to access credit.
In conclusion, it is curious that such a simple system has become a tool to allow immigrants to weather the various crises that have been succumbing the economy. Systems such as batches are, therefore, a very useful tool that, in the same way that they have solved the problem of lack of resources, have also reduced, along with remittances, and without the need for political intervention. economic, the very inequality that generates this rigidity in access to credit in certain countries.
In this way, the batches are an increasingly used tool, and very useful in situations that, like the current one, an economic crisis is looming and the social protection systems, for these immigrants, are not even contemplated by the Government itself. Thanks to the batches, these immigrants have access to these resources, in the same way that, as was their intention when traveling to the United States, it allows the start-up of businesses and businesses that allow the achievement of the objectives and the fulfillment of his most longed for wish: “the American dream.”