Tanda (informal loan club)

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A tanda is the Latin American term for an informal rotating savings and credit association (ROSCAS). They are operated globally, but have over 200 different names that vary from country to country.[1][2] They are also known as cundinas (Mexico), susu/Osusu (West Africa and the Caribbean), hui (Asia), juntas (Peru), cuchubales (El Salvador and Guatemala),[3] pollas (Chile), pandeiros (Brazil), paluwagan (Philippines), Stokvel (South Africa), committee (Pakistan) or quiniela. An English name for such an association is a partnerhand. In short, a tanda is a form of a short-term no-interest loan among friends.[4]

A tanda may be managed in different ways. The way it usually works is a group of people that know each other get together to collect money (either weekly, monthly, yearly) to help each other financially. Participants can come up with any rules as long as they benefit the group. Usually there is an amount of money and number of people in the group that they all agree to in order to have cash right away. When they come to an agreement of who will be in the tanda and how much it will be (either weekly, monthly, yearly), they have to come up with the order of who is going to receive the money. Participants can either raffle the numbers or make the decision in who needs the money most. It all depends on the group's decisions.[2]

As an example, a tanda is formed between ten friends and family. Each member gives $100 USD every two weeks to the group's organizer. At the end of the month, one participant gets the "pot", $1000. This continues until each member has received the pot.[4]

Tandas are formed for many reasons, but often because at least one member is in need of money to pay a debt right away, or an emergency arises. But they can also be formed with no pressing financial obligations.

Among Mexicans, these forms of informal savings associations play an important role sustaining the livelihood of many people living in both Mexico and the United States. Importantly, tandas are significant cultural practices among other Latino and Chicano populations in the U.S.[5] According to cultural anthropologist Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez – the first scholar to critically examine this cultural practice among Mexicans – tandas are based on mutual trust, or confianza.[2][6] As Vélez-Ibáñez explains, confianza "shapes the expectations for relationships within broad networks of interpersonal links, in which intimacies, favors, goods, services, emotion, power, or information are exchanged".[2]

While tandas may play important economic roles in the lives of people, they also serve important social and emotional functions in the everyday lives of people. According to anthropologist Lourdes Gutierrez Najera, tandas are common among Oaxacan migrants.

For women, in particular, tandas facilitate social networks and makes them feel less isolated living in Los Angeles. As the women she quotes jokingly suggest, "the only reason women participate in tandas is for the gossip, otherwise it doesn't make sense." Consequently, participating in tanda gatherings make the separation from their hometown, Yalalag, more tolerable.[7] Importantly, they also help migrants save money.[7]

Younger generations have created companies that modernize tandas with online platforms.[8] These platforms help solve the problems that are generated by the traditional tanda, like transparency, organization, localization, and money collection and distribution methods.


  1. ^ "ROSCAs: What's in a name?".
  2. ^ a b c d Vélez-Ibáñez, Carlos (2010). An Impossible Living in a Transborder World: Culture, Confianza, and Economy of Mexican-Origin Populations. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816526354.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b Meraji, Shereen Marisol (April 1, 2014). "Lending Circles Help Latinas Pay Bills And Invest". NPR.org. NPR. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  5. ^ [2]. The Anthropology of Money University of California, Irvine School of Social Sciences.
  6. ^ Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez
  7. ^ a b Gutierrez Najera, "Hayándose", in eds. Gina Pérez, et al, Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America. pp. 63–80.
  8. ^ "Traditional Mexican Saving System's Popularity Grows".