Susu collectors have been engaging in this business in and around Ghanaian markets for quite a long time. The practice is very easy and provides useful service for small business owners.
The Susu scheme works in a simple way. Traders pay a small amount of money, ranging between 1 cedi to 10 cedis, of what they earn in a day to a Susu collector. At the end of the month, the Susu collector pays out lump sums to the clients, while keeping one day’s payment from each customer for the service.
It’s been argued, the people on the Susu scheme are losing out because they are not earning any profit. The proponents of this argument will think differently if they find themselves in the profession of these petty traders and bus conductors.
For such people leaving their businesses to join a queue at the bank to make their daily savings means losing money and customers. With the Susu collection you spend less than five minutes and often the susu collector will come to you to take your savings. Every second counts when it comes to earning money. Thus, the loss that will be made by going to the bank will surely be more than saving with the Susu collector.
The importance of susu collection can’t be measured when one considers the small loans they have been providing to help customers establish or develop their businesses. Interestingly, unlike the banks where you would have to pay interest on your loan, the Susu collector is not taking a dime. All you need to provide is a copy of your savings card, and that’s it; your loan in just less than 10 minutes. You don’t need to move from one section to the other signing loan agreements. Just imagine paying 10 percent interest on your loan in addition to the administrative charges. Clearly, the Susu scheme is not just about convenience, it’s also helping to promote micro finance initiative in Ghana.
I’m sure those who think that the Susu scheme is not a best practice will also consider the unemployment situation in Ghana. These Susu collectors have created job opportunity for themselves-we are talking about 4000-, and they are making good use of the scheme by even creating same opportunities for others. They have trusted agents who collect moneys from clients who can’t make it to the Susu collector’s place. If the Susu collector is earning something modest for his services, we need to be grateful that he did not venture into robbery.
The Susu programme may not be at the same level with the banks in terms of logistics, but they are providing a convenient means for petty traders to save. Therefore government should assist to these existing, indigenous financial institutions. They should acknowledge these susu collectors that are already providing services such as loans and savings facilities to the less privilege.
Obviously, the decision of low income earners to take part in the Susu scheme is not out of ignorance or lack of financial literacy, it is based on sound financial judgement.