I was on the phone with a good friend of mine, Ndi, and she told me her brother was in a susu. I instantly said “a who, spell that” lol.. She explained to me “SU SU.. S..U..S..U, its a group of people saving together to gain money fast for a business” or something like that. Still a little confused I asked her to explain more, she said “So let’s say 10 people put $100 in the pot once a month and each month one person gets to collect the total, so everyone puts in and gets no less than the same amount”… *light bulb goes off*
I know you are like me reading this thinking, so what TF is a susu right? Well, a susu is basically a savings club. This type of savings club was created in the Caribbean. So, not only do they have beautiful beaches, resorts, great accents, warm weather, and body-moving music, they have susus. I started to research…
SuSu is an informal means of collecting and saving money through a savings club or partnership. Originally from West Africa, the term was brought to the Caribbean by slaves in the 18th century. Caribbean immigrants in New York use SuSu to start new businesses or buy a car without getting a bank loan. A dozen or so friends and family may form a SuSu, agreeing to pay a fixed amount of money into the fund each week or month. A ‘banker’ — a trusted member of the community — collects each person’s contribution and the members of the group take turns receiving the proceeds. So if 10 people give $100 a hand, one saver gets $1,000 the first week, another takes the pot the next week, and so on until each of the 10 savers has received $1,000.
In this article, we will explore the origins and benefits of SuSu, how it works, and why it is still relevant today.
Origins of SuSu
The term SuSu comes from the West African Yoruba word esusu, which means pooling the funds. It was brought to the Caribbean by West African slaves in the 18th century. The concept of SuSu has evolved over time and is now widely used by Caribbean immigrants in New York. Other names for SuSu include “partners” in Jamaica, “mens” in Haiti, “sociades” in the Dominican Republic, and “boxes” in Guyana.
Benefits of SuSu
SuSu is a way for immigrants who may have trouble getting bank loans to pool their savings and invest in their future. Irwine Clare, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1978 and is now managing director of Caribbean Immigrant Services, which helps Caribbean immigrants attain U.S. citizenship, describes SuSu as “a subterranean banking facility” for Caribbean immigrants. It allows them to accumulate money to do big-ticket things, like buying a car or making a down payment on a house.
How SuSu Works
SuSu is based on a system of group savings. A dozen or so friends and family may form a SuSu, agreeing to pay a fixed amount of money into the fund each week or month. A “banker” — a trusted member of the community — collects each person’s contribution, often called a “hand,” and the members of the group take turns receiving the proceeds. So if 10 people give $100 a hand, one saver gets $1,000 the first week, another takes the pot the next week, and so on until each of the 10 savers has received $1,000.
Andrew Morris, owner of Sam’s Caribbean Marketplace in West Hempstead, Nassau County, is one of the many Caribbean immigrants who rely on SuSu. When he decided to open his business in 1993, he went to a bank to apply for a loan. However, the bank would only loan him $50,000, half of what he needed to start his first business. To make up the difference, Morris turned to his local SuSu. Nearly 20 years later, Morris estimates he has saved almost $250,000 through SuSu and it has become an integral part of his business.
Why SuSu is Still Relevant Today
SuSu is still relevant today because it allows people to save money in a way that is accessible and low-risk. Since it is based on trust and mutual cooperation, it can be a way for people who may not have access to traditional banking services to save money and invest in their future. SuSu is also a way for people to build relationships and trust within their community. In a SuSu, everyone is invested in each other’s success and it is the banker’s responsibility to ensure that everyone keeps up with their
The Easy Breakdown of a Susu:
- Susu is an informal means of collecting and saving money through a savings club or partnership (according to wikipedia)
The term Susu comes from the West African Yoruba word esusu meaning pooling the funds
- It was then brought to the Caribbean by slaves in the 18th century
- Jamaican’s call them “partners”
- Haitains call them “mens”
- Dominicans call them “sociades”
- Guyanans call them “boxes”
How they work:
- A group of people, typically friends or family
Everyone agrees to pay a fixed amount per a certain period of time into the “fund”
- $100/month or $50/week, whatever everyone agrees on
- A “banker” or “hand” a trusted person collects and manages the money
Each member takes turns receiving the money collected
- Ex: the first person will collect week one, a different person the next week and so on.
So if 10 people put in $100/week. The first person will collect $1000 the first week, another person will collect $1000 the second week and so on until everyone has collected $1000.
In conclusion, a susu is a traditional savings club scheme that has been popular in Caribbean and other immigrant communities for centuries. It provides a way for friends and family to pool their money together, save collectively, and achieve common goals like starting a business, buying a car, or making a down payment on a house. While susus may have originated in West Africa and spread to the Caribbean, they have also been used in other parts of the world, including China and among low-wage workers.
For many, susus have become an integral part of their personal and business finances, allowing them to access capital without having to rely on banks or other financial institutions. Despite the informal nature of susus, they have a long-standing reputation for trust and accountability, making them a valuable tool for those looking to achieve financial success.
So, will you susu?
Read the article about Andrew Morris here.