When I arrived in Barcelona in 1999, in search for opportunities I could not find in my native Senegal, I was lonely and poor. But also resourceful and creative. I started thinking about how I could remedy the situation. And I remembered a model my mother and aunts used to be involved in Senegal. It was an informal savings model called a “tontine”. A tontine is set up by a group of people who pool money that is then handed out, in turns, to its members. For example, a group of 8 people will, at the first meeting, all put in Euro 100. One member is then nominated to receive that Euro 800. During the 7 following meetings, the process is repeated until all members receive the same lump sum. The backbone of a tontine is trust and solidarity. In 2003 I created a tontine with 5 Senegalese friends living in Barcelona. It gave me that community spirit I so missed in Senegal and fund my plans to study. With time we converted it into a CAF to favor the participation of the poorest. A CAF (Comunidad AutoFinanciada, meaning Self Funded Community) is a group of people who save together and with the funds accumulated, give credits to their members for any need. Thanks to CAF I was not only given the loans for my 2 masters degrees and currently my PhD but I also didn’t feel lonely or poor anymore. For al this I can say that as a migrant, my integration would not be that succesful without the empowerment process I went through.
About Abdoulaye Fall
After founding a self-funded community himself, Abdoulaye now works as Program Manager at the Association of Self Funded Communities.