Drawing on the Lived Experience of African Canadians: Using Money Pools to Combat Social and Business Exclusion

  • Caroline Shenaz Hossein
  • Ginelle Skerritt
Part of the Perspectives from Social Economics book series (PSE)


Trinidadian-Canadian Ginelle Skerritt was first introduced to susu as a savings device as a child in her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Her grandmother and mother were active in this African-Caribbean tradition as a way to pool money in Trinidad for business and livelihood needs. After migrating to Toronto in the 1960s, she watched her mother as a newcomer bring these collective banks to Canada and to find a supportive community. The family’s first home, vacations, and school fees were all made possible through susu. Susu provided her with the money to be the first person in her family to go to university. As a successful professional, Ginelle explores the ways in which susu has helped her, her family, and friends and why she participated in an adapted version of susu for more than a decade. This chapter explores the use of susus—also called money pools—by Caribbean people in the Canadian and the personal account of Ginelle Skerritt's family using the susu system shows that diverse financial services exist in major cities around the world.

Works Cited

  1. Amin, Ash, ed. 2009. The Social Economy: International Perspectives on Economic Solidarity. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  2. Ardener, Shirley, and Sandra Burman, eds. 1996. Money-Go-Rounds: The Importance of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations for Women. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  3. Baradaran, Mehrsa. 2015. How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bridge, S., B. Murtagh, and K. O’Neil. 2009. Understanding the Social Economy and the Third Sector. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Buckland, Jerry. 2012. Hard Choices: Financial Exclusion, Fringe Banks, and Poverty in Urban Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  6. Collins, Patricia Hill. 2000a. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2000b. Black Feminism and Black Political Economy. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 568: 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Das Gupta, Tania. 2007. Immigrant Women’s Activism: The Last Thirty Years. In Race, Racialization, and Antiracism in Canada and Beyond, ed. Genevieve Fuji Johnson and Randy Enomoto, 105–116. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  9. Du Bois, W.E.B. 1903. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Signet Classic.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 1907. Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans. Atlanta: The Atlanta University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Fairbairn, Brett. 1994. The Meaning of Rochdale: The Rochdale Pioneers and the Co-operative Principles, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. Regina: University of Saskatchewan.Google Scholar
  12. Figart, Deborah M. 2014. Underbanked and Overcharged: Creating Alternatives to Alternative Financial Service Providers. Dollars and Sense 9–11.Google Scholar
  13. Fontan, J.M., P. Hamel, R. Morin, and E. Shragge. 2009. Community Organizations and Local Governance in a Metropolitan Region. Urban Affairs Review 44 (6): 832–857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Foster, Mary, Ida Berger, Kenn Ross, and Kristine Neglia. 2015. Chapter 4: Miziwe Biik Case Study: Microloans in the Urban Aboriginal Community. In Social Purpose Enterprises: Case Studies for Social Change, ed. J. Quarter, Sherida Ryan, and Andrea Chan, 75–97. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  15. Galabuzi, Grace-Edward. 2006. Canada’s Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.Google Scholar
  16. Geertz, Clifford. 1962. The Rotating Credit Association: A Middle Rung in Development. Economic Development and Cultural Change 10 (3): 241–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2006. A Postcapitalist Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gilmore, Scott. 2015, January. Canada’s Race Problem? It’s Even Worse Than America’s. For a Country So Self-satisfied with Its Image of Progressive Tolerance, How is This Not a National Crisis? Maclean’s. Google Scholar
  19. Gordon Nembhard, Jessica. 2014. Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. University Park: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Guinnane, Timothy. 2001. Cooperatives as Information Machines: German Rural Credit Cooperatives, 1883–1914. Journal of Economic History 61 (2): 366–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Handa, Sudhanshu, and Kirton Claremont. 1999. The Economies of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations: Evidence from the Jamaican “Partner.”. Journal of Development Economics 60: 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hart, Keith, Jean-Louis Laville, and Antônio David Cattani. 2010. The Human Economy. Cambridge: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hossein, Caroline Shenaz. 2013. The Black Social Economy: Perseverance of Banker Ladies in the Slums. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 84 (4): 423–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. ———. 2016a. Money Pools in the Americas: The African Diaspora’s Legacy in the Social Economy. The Forum for Social Economics XLV (4): 309–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. ———. 2016b. Politicized Microfinance: Money, Power and Violence in the Black Americas. Toronto: University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  26. Hudson, Richard, and Roger Wehrell. 2005. Socially Responsible Investors and the Micro-entrepreneur: A Canadian Case. Journal of Business Ethics 60: 281–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. James, Carl, David Este, Wanda Thomas Bernard, Akua Benjamin, Bethan Lloyd, and Tana Turner. 2010. Race and Well-Being: The Lives, Hopes and Activism of African Canadians. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.Google Scholar
  28. Jones, Rupert. 2014, February 15. Is Peer-to-peer Lending Too Good to Be True? The Guardian. Google Scholar
  29. K’nife, K’adamwe, Allan Bernard, and Edward Dixon. 2011. Marcus Garvey the Entrepreneur? Insights for Stimulating Entrepreneurship in Developing Nations. Journal of Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey, 76 King Street 2: 37–59.Google Scholar
  30. Laforest, Rachel. 2009. The New Federal Agenda and the Voluntary Sector. Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  31. MacPherson, Ian. 2007. The Origins of the Canadian Cooperative Movement. In One Path to Co-operative Studies. Victoria: New Rochdale Press.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2010. Hands Across the Globe: A History of the International Credit Union Movement. Victoria: TouchWood Editions.Google Scholar
  33. Martin, Tony. 1983. Marcus Garvey, Hero: A First Biography. Dover: Majority Press.Google Scholar
  34. Mendell, Marguerite. 2009. The Three Pillars of the Social Economy in Quebec. In The Social Economy: Alternative Ways of Thinking About Capitalism and Welfare, ed. Ash Amin, 176–209. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  35. Mensah, Joseph. 2010. Black Canadians: History, Experience, Social Conditions. 2nd ed. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. Mintz, Sidney. 1955. The Jamaican Internal Marketing Pattern: Some Notes and Hypotheses. Social and Economic Studies 4 (1): 95–103.Google Scholar
  37. ———. 2010. Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Polanyi, Karl. 1944. The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  39. Quarter, Jack, Laurie Mook, and Ann Armstrong. 2009. Understanding the Social Economy: A Canadian Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  40. Quarter, Jack, Sherida Ryan, and Andrea Chan. 2015. Social Purpose Enterprises: Case Studies for Social Change. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  41. Roelvink, Gerda, Kevin St. Martin, and J.K. Gibson-Graham. 2015. Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Economies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  42. Rutherford, Stuart. 2000. The Poor and Their Money. New Delhi: DFID/Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Shragge, Eric, and Jean-Marc Fontan. 2000. Social Economy: International Debates and Perspectives. Montreal: Black Rose Books.Google Scholar
  44. Smets, Peer. 2000. Roscas as a Source of Housing Finance for the Urban Poor: An Analysis of Self-help Practices from Hyderabad, India. Community Development Journal 35 (1): 16–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Southcott, C. 2015. Northern Communities Working Together: The Social Economy of Canada’s North. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  46. St. Pierre, Maurice. 1999. Anatomy of Resistance: Anticolonialism in Guyana 1823–1966. London: Macmillan Education.Google Scholar
  47. Statistics Canada. 2001. National Household Survey. Accessed 2 June 2014.
  48. ———. 2004. National Household Survey. Accessed 1 Nov 2015.
  49. ———. 2007. National Household Survey. Accessed 24 Aug 2015.
  50. ———. 2011. National Household Survey. Accessed 26 July 2017.
  51. Thériault, L. 2012. The Foundations of the Social Economy: Co-operatives, Non-profits and Other Social Enterprises. Chapter 2. In Social Economy: Communities, Economies and Solidarity in Atlantic Canada, ed. S. Novkovic and L. Brown, 22–38. Sydney: Cape Breton University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Ulysse, Gina A. 2007. Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, a Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  53. UN International Year for People of African Descent. 2011. From: Accessed 17 Nov 2015.
  54. Van Staveren, Irene. 2015. Economics After the Crisis: An Introduction to Economics from a Pluralist and Global Perspective. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Williams, Richard C. 2007. The Cooperative Movement: Globalization from Below. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  56. Wuttunee, Wanda. 2004. Living Rhythms: Lessons in Aboriginal Economic Resilience and Vision. Kingston: McGill Queens University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Shenaz Hossein
    • 1
  • Ginelle Skerritt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Social ScienceYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Warden Woods Community CentreScarborough, TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations