A genius funding structure from a Guatemalan village.

500 bales stackedThis exciting funding structure stacks up to blow double dips and structured debt out of the water. It is as close as you’ll get to poetry in motion, legally speaking.

This structure comes from impoverished villagers in Guatemala seeking to lift their lives away from the daily grind of tired survival into a place where life has a future. Trading out of poverty is the only possibility. This seems to be impossible because the villagers do not have a cent to spare to invest in making something to sell. All their money is used for food and that is still not enough. The villagers are so poor they only half function due to lack of nourishment. A lump sum is essential to break this cycle. The sum can be invested in something like a weaving machine, a cooker, seeds, chickens. Then the villagers can weave, bake, grow or sell eggs and lift themselves out of poverty, without dying of hunger first.

Finding a lump sum looks like a gigantum task, doesn’t it?

The villagers devised this funding structure:

The structure

A group of twelve villagers get together.

For a year, every month every villager puts ten dollars* into a pot. Each month this pot stacks up to 10 X 12 = $120*

This stacks up to a significant lump sum, enough to buy an oven, a weaving machine, chickens etc.

Every month one of the group of twelve is given that lump sum. This is repeated until the end of the year when every member of the structure has received a lump sum of $120* and contributed to every other group member getting a lump sum, too.

stubble 600The villagers have transformed their lives. For example, one girl purchased a weaving machine and is now saving up to complete her education and then qualify as a nurse.

No fees, no commissions, no security, and no interest rates. Humbling isn’t it?

This structure is not one I have worked on and never will because the only people this structure needs are mutual donors.

Watch the video here.

Wider application

This structure could be used in western communities too. I think we are ready for it as mass public funding sites like Crowdfunder, PledgeMusic and their surfeit of digital bedfellows tell us. Humanity wants to reach out and help others.


I came across this structure in an American Film ‘Living on One Dollar’ in which two young economic students immerse themselves in rural Guatemala surviving on a dollar a day as the villagers do.

Watch Living on One Dollar on Netflix, featuring Ryan Christoffersen, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, and Chris Temple.spending july photo 2.JPG

*theoretical figures to explain the structure

One thought on “A genius funding structure from a Guatemalan village.

  1. Simple and effective! I think that once you put intermediaries and too many bureaucratic elements in this kind of scheme you just provide more spaces for the money to get lost! Whereas here trust is the key element and the incentives to cheat are low. Looking forward to watch the movie you mentioned!


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