Self-Help and the Practice of
Local Development in Ijesaland
“By next year, we will have a marketplace there” [pointing to a large area of cleared land].
“Yes, in this town we have dreams. ” “If you don't have dreams, then nothing happens. ”
—Conversation between two women involved
in development in Iloko, June 14, 1997
On Friday, June 16, 1995, I went with the manager of the Ijebu-Jesa community bank to visit bank customers. Most of those we visited are participating in the daily contribution scheme. We went first to a shop that faces the marketplace, where there is a woman selling general merchandise—things such as toiletries, rubber soles for shoes, nails, and buttons. As soon as I began asking about the bank, she brought out her passbook—in fact she has two, one of which is already filled. It is a very simple system, showing the date, amount of contribution, and overall balance, so that there is a running total. Loans are also shown on the same passbook. She began with the bank on September 15, 1994, and has made 182 deposits. I looked quickly at the book and the deposits seemed to be N20, N50, and sometimes N100. There seemed to be a balance of about N5,000. She said that she has had two loans, the first in November 1994 and the second in June 1995; the second was for N5,000. The manager said that the second loan can be bigger than the first, once they see that the person can pay back. She used the loans to buy more merchandise. The second person we went to see is selling soup ingredients—peppers and tomatoes—in the market. She, too, said that she has had two loans and used them to buy more produce. She sells in the market and also from her house on other days. Then we went to another shop that seemed to have just a little stock— drinks, packaged soups, and macaroni. The woman there began with the bank in July 1994; again she got out her passbook. Most of her deposits are N20; sometimes she deposits N100. She has had two loans and has