Pooling With a Purpose
Growing up in a very low income, yet loving, household, being one of fourteen siblings teaches you everything you need to know about sharing. Everything you can think of had to be shared, not only because you were told to, but because it was a requirement in order to survive.
This is not exactly my story. This is the story of my mother and her family while growing up in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica in the 60's. Sure, Jamaica conjures images of breezy beach days with your drink of choice nearby, however just up those hills are families struggling to live off $100 Jamaican dollars a month. That's barely enough to sustain a family of one, much less a family with fourteen children.
This is not only my mother's story, but also the story of millions around the world. Millions live this daily truth, scraping by with the bare minimum, This is a reality even in our very own backyard, right here in America. My mother's sharing included clothing, shoes, personal products, beds, rooms and, of course, meals. There were nights the older siblings would have to go to bed after having very little to eat in order for the younger children to get a plate. Then it was off to bed, where you shared a room with up to nine of your brothers and sisters.
Part of this daily sharing mentality led to pacts being made amongst the siblings. Pacts that were a little more permanent than the typical handshake deal, but not the sharing of blood drops type of pact. The pact that started it all was, "Fi every ting you have, mi hafi get half." In other words, for everything you have, I'm entitled to half. Sure, that may not seem like a big deal, but it's not quite as simple as you might think. If you're walking home and you stop over at a neighbor's house for some mangos (yes, Jamaicans eat mangos for breakfast, lunch and dinner), you must bring one home. If you only get one, you better bring half of it back. This covers everything you can think of and it went on for years between my mother and her siblings.
This method of combining resources isn't new at all. It's core to who we are as humans. It's how all living beings have evolved to survive. When it comes to the sharing, or pooling, of money, this has been going on for hundreds of years across many countries. In Jamaica, we call it "pardna", or partner, but it has many different names in many different cultures and languages. My wife's family calls it "committee", other Caribbean and African countries call it "susu", or it's known as "tandas" in Latin America, and there are many more. At its roots, it's a way for like-minded groups of people to increase their financial flexibility through the use of pooled funds.
After immigrating to South Florida, my immediate and extended family continues to participate in pools, with limited success. I've seen how inefficient, inaccurate, and time-consuming it can be to organize and facilitate. Even when all parties have the best intentions to participate in the pool, time can get away from people and other priorities bubble up. What really sparked the light bulb was finding out my wife has also heard of this concept while growing up in her family, and her parents emigrated from Pakistan. We call it, "the committee," she said. You see, if you just do a little searching, you'll find there is a need for this in many low-income and middle-class households, no matter what country you're in. Everyone can use help to get to where they want to be. Sometimes all they need is a little opportunity or financial flexibility to achieve their goals.
Inspired by this concept and its social impact, I founded PoolSpark, Inc. to use the power of the Internet to share this concept of helping friends, family and neighbors to boost their buying power. PoolSpark creates opportunity for people through the sharing of pooled funds. We aim to deliver a secure, automated money-pooling service that increases financial flexibility for individuals and families around the world. Many will use PoolSpark to save, others will have a specific goal in mind, and then there are those that will use our service to contribute to the livelihood of others. How will you use PoolSpark?
Founder & CEO