Diana McKnight, a 30-year advocate for community and economic development and a resident of Washington state, said she’d been researching ways to help people of color empower themselves and become more knowledgeable and strategic about their finances. Finally, about three months ago when COVID-19 was at its initial peak in the United States, McKnight launched Extended Family 100, a virtually-run ROSCA that consists of family and friends from across the United States. However, the virus was not McKnight’s motivation to start a ROSCA. The systemic inaccessibility of traditional financial services to people of color was her greatest influence.
“I remember going into a savings and loan with this person who applied for an account, but because they had a low credit score, they were denied an account,” said McKnight who also worked in banking for ten years. “[I]f that person had a job and something going for herself, then she should be able to take $5 and open an account.”
The deficit of traditional financing options for the disadvantaged in a nation where banks and other financial institutions are plenty seemed “ludicrous” to McKnight and the reason these groups turned to ROSCAS, known by many pseudonyms including sou-sous, kitties, ayutos, tontines, and hagbags, to build capital for short and long term goals.