Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg
A garbage disposal area in Makassar, Indonesia's South Sulawesi province.
It’s clear from the dirt floor, the battered green sofa and the common-use comb hanging from a string next to the door that this is no ordinary bank. Customers here, in a poor corner of eastern Indonesia, borrow cash — and pay back trash.
“The program originated from the people, it is managed by the people, and the rewards are for the people,” said bank manager Suryana, who wears a black jilbab headscarf and lives with her family above the Mutiara Trash Bank in the fast-growing city of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi. “From an economic point of view, this gets results.”
It’s an idea that’s about as far as can be from the technological developments disrupting banking elsewhere. Not just neighborhoods in Indonesia, but elsewhere across emerging Asia and Africa, locales are embracing “trash banking” as a way of reducing pressure on ever-growing landfill sites and allowing some of their poorest citizens access to savings and credit.