Al-jamaeh: A social project to raise collective funds [Archives:2007/1044/Last Page]

April 23 2007

Fatima Al-Ajel
[email protected]

When citizens' income decreases, they must consider some business or project to increase it. In Yemen, raising money is called al-jamaeh or al-habakah, which is a special project wherein a group of individuals amass money for someone. It is a phenomenon that has appeared as a result of poor economic conditions.

Basically, al-jamaeh is a group of individuals who agree to set aside a portion of their income monthly for a specified time period in order to fund a specific project for a group or individual. It is a project in itself. Friends, relatives, neighbors and company employees are examples of groups doing al-jamaeh, with each one deciding to do it for a specific project he or she plans to achieve.

Many people don't have enough money to do a simple project or can't obtain a bank loan, so they do al-jamaeh because it's easy to amass the needed funds on time and they can submit the money regularly in small portions to a chief manager.

Al-jamaeh is like a union. It has a chief manager who is a member of the group and other members to help the chief manager. They have regular meetings. At the first meeting, they decide the number of participants, they agree on how much they'll pay or collect and list the participants' names.

They order the names according to a jointly signed agreement. Most participants do al-jamaeh in order to accumulate money in a short time, so everyone wants to be the first to get it; however, they must follow the rules of listing the names at the outset of the project.

Names are listed according to certain conditions; for example, they sometimes list them according to the most urgent reason or the one needing the money in the shortest time. Someone has arranged his marriage and needs the money for the wedding festivities, someone else has built a house and needs the money to complete it, while another wants to travel to study at a specific time and so he'll register his name at the top of the list.

Most participants are in urgent situations and most need the money first, so the chief manager lists the names according to the participant's monetary share.

Rules for al-jamaeh

Every project requires principles to make it successful; thus, along with the chief manager, al-jamaeh participants establish rules for their group, according to participants' situations and incomes, followed by signing an agreement, especially if the money shares are high. Al-jamaeh sometimes reaches millions of riyals, so in this case, participants prefer to sign the agreement at a police station or talk to their zone chief about collecting all of their money.

Having a regular income is the main requirement to participate in such a project. Everyone must submit funds on time; otherwise, the participant will be punished according to the signed agreement.

In large al-jamaeh projects with high amounts of money, participants provide bail to the chief manager to insure that no one will escape after he or she receives his share of the money.

Problems during al-jamaeh

After participants sign onto al-jamaeh, they often start talking about it everywhere they meet, especially women participants, always thinking about what they'll do when they receive the money. Because they sometimes bother others who aren't involved in their group, they hold their own gathering to talk about al-jamaeh, often neglecting the duties of their home, children and husband.

The chief manager faces many problems while holding al-jamaeh responsibilities. Many times, one participant wants to break the rules that all participants must follow. Some request the money before his or her turn, especially if it's an urgent matter. This might bother the other participants, who'll be angry or might refuse to accept this. In this case, the chief must be wise enough to solve such problems, especially if many of the participants have urgent matters.

To solve this problem, al-jamaeh participants sometimes agree in writing not to change the rules, no matter what happens to a participant. The chief manager carries the responsibility for this by signing minutes at the police station to solve the problem.