Author: Sonja Dumas

Sou-Sou in the Ancient Tradition 🌱
Collective, non-banking forms of financing are likely as old as monetary systems themselves. After all, currency came way before banks, right? So it would stand to reason that in many cases, community financing was the key to economic empowerment.

Enter the sou-sou, a traditional community savings association of sorts that is well known in some West African and Caribbean 🏝️ countries. It’s simple and clean in its structure: a set number of people make regular contributions to a pot of money over a discrete period of time. At the end of that period, one person in the contributing group gets the full amount. It’s cyclical, so the next time around, someone else would get the “pot” of money. It’s all clear from the start who will get what and how the pot is built up for them to get it.

But you know us humans. We hadda make a mas’. So enter de nex’ ting – the pyramid scheme. Disguising itself as a sweet little sou-sou reimagined 🧠, the pyramid scheme promises the potential investor huge profits from his or her small contribution.

How? By engaging that investor in a constant cycle of recruitment. Everyone who comes on board must recruit others, and that’s how they get a big payout. As the scheme grows, exponentially more people have to be recruited to sustain the rewards that shoot to the top, but only trickle back down to the masses of people at or near the base of the pyramid. And, yes, the ones at the tip of the pyramid get the most. The problem is that there are often too many (unknown) people to depend on to keep up the cycle of recruitment, and it can (and usually does) eventually crumble, leaving people’s investments in the rubble.

Chalk and Cheese
A pyramid is a far cry from a traditional sou-sou. In the former, yuh money jumpin’ up in steelband 🛢️ if you or others can’t maintain the constant recruitment process. However, in the classic version of the sou-sou, you ent buying cat in bag, as the old people say. So it’s probably best to stick to what is transparent and take your money when it’s your turn. Sou-sou, Doux Doux.

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