This children’s banking cooperative from India is changing lives

16 Jun, 2021

Developed by our Changemakers in India, the Children’s Development Khazana (CDK) is a life skills education programme that teaches children how to take care of their money and how to cooperate to create a stronger financial future. The name ‘Khazana’ comes from the Persian word for treasure. Now it’s being replicated beyond India, too. It’s just one example of how the way Family for Every Child works can successfully spread locally-grown ideas at a global level.

Initiated in 2001 by Butterflies, our member in India, the Khazana is a cooperative banking system run by, and for, street children. As well as opening their own savings account, children can participate in running the bank – learning about bookkeeping, budgeting, and group decision-making. The ultimate goal is to support children to break the cycle of poverty and financial illiteracy by equipping them with the knowledge that will set them up for life.

At Family’s General Assembly, Butterflies Founder and Director Rita Panicker met with representatives from Challenging Heights, a Ghanaian organization fighting to end child trafficking in Lake Volta’s fishing industry.

“There are similarities between trafficked and street children that made CDK replicable in Ghana,” explains Jonathan Kojo Anderson, Grant Manager at Challenging Heights. “Among the root causes of poverty, there isn’t only a lack of money but also the inability to manage it, and economic hardship is a major factor leading to child trafficking. The financial management skills that children gain by running their own Khazana fit well into our holistic approach to youth capacity building.”

Soon after meeting, the wheels were in motion. Butterflies applied for a Comic Relief grant and provided technical and financial support to launch the programme, once funds were transferred to Ghana. It’s been operating there since 2013.

These days, the Child Development Khazana Network is truly international. Following its beginnings in India, the programme now runs in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Madagascar as well as Ghana, and Nepal, through further collaboration with another Family member, Voice of Children.

Some of the children – or ‘branch managers’ as they refer to themselves – even got the chance to meet at an international conference that the Khazana network held in India. Linda travelled there from Ghana, saying, “I have now gained international exposure, a network I can rely on for the rest of my life.” For Linda, and other children who joined, this was a unique opportunity to meet children who share their passion from a wide range of different countries and cultures.

So, what next?

The CDK’s founder, Rita, tells us, “I would love to keep growing the Khazana network. If we can raise funds, I’d like to turn what we’ve learned into a franchise, so we can reach more children, more quickly. This would give us the chance to foster children’s entrepreneurial skills, so they can effectively build their future.”

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