Rotating Credit Associations and the Diasporic Economy
Vol. Volume 3, Number 1 June/1998
Michel S. Laguerre
Michel Laguerre teaches Social Anthropology and American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. This is revised version of a paper read at the annual meetings of the American sociological association held in Toronto, Canada, August 1997. I wish to thank Ivan Light, Steve Balkin, Monsieur and Madame Jean A. Desroches and Myoka for their comments on this paper.
Caribbean immigrants have participated in rotating credit associations in their adaptation to daily life in New York City. This essay examines the relations between diasporic entrepreneurship and the folk banking system known as sangue or min among the Haitian community in New York. It introduces the transnationality factor to identify the social parameters of the rotating credit association and the challenges such an expansion implies. Focusing on three cases that describe the mode of operation and the risks involved, this essay further maps out key relations of this folk banking institution to ethnic entrepreneurship and explains how they contribute to the success or failure of such ventures. It concludes that the success of the rotating credit association depends on its transitionality which defines its mode of operation and thus makes it unfit for formalization.
Rotating Credit Association, entrepreneurship, ethnic business, transnationality, Haitian-Americans, diasporic economy.