Inspired by her documentary and forthcoming book, The Banker Ladies, we recently had the privilege of connecting with Dr. Caroline Shenaz Hossein about her research on coop banking, the role of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), and social enterprises in Canada.

Caroline Shenaz Hossein is an Associate Professor of Global Development and Political Science at the University of Toronto at Scarborough in Ontario, Canada. She founded the Diverse Solidarity Economies (DiSE) Collective, made up of more than 20 Black and racialized feminist leaders, and is the author of Politicized Microfinance: Money, power and violence in the Black Americas (University of Toronto Press, 2016). Caroline currently sits on the Board of the International Feminist Economics Association, is the Board Chair of the Miami Institute for Social Sciences, and is a Board trustee of the Association of Social Economics, all global academic institutions reaching thousands of members. She is currently conducting research on the African diaspora in Canada and the Caribbean, and she is particularly interested in advancing the economic role of racialized women in the Caribbean and Canada in real ways to acknowledge and hire the Banker Ladies in economic development. You can see more about her research and projects on her website or follow her on Twitter: @carolinehossein.

  1. What has your career journey been like and what inspired you to create the Banker Ladies documentary and research alternative models of banking?

While at Cornell University (1995-1997), I started researching Sudanese exiles in Cairo, Egypt and livelihood strategies such as Sandooq and other microbanking programs. I then worked in Benin, Niger, Guinea, and a number of other places focused on economic development programming through global non-profits and development aid agencies for about 10 years. Now as an academic, I am interested in coops and the commoning of goods. Though I studied professionalized financial development, such as microfinance, for years as my PhD topic across a number of Caribbean countries, my interest was always in community-driven cooperative institutions, officially known as rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs). ROSCAs are locally called by the vernacular: Susu, Chit, Hagbad, Osusu, Chama, Arisan, Hua and such banking coops. Being told that there was only one commercial model of banking to follow seemed untrue. Growing up in a Caribbean immigrant family we had to struggle for everything, and I knew that right in Toronto African peoples and other racialized immigrants were always organizing their own mutual aid financing and coops, and often did this work out of sight. This is what we can see as part of the commons, in which people shared goods to help themselves and others. In my experience, doing research on ROSCAs is accepted in the academe, as long as one is studying these coops in the Global South, outside of the Western world. Running a ROSCA is tough work because the members who organize these coops are operating informally, and they are commoning resources so building trust takes time. Because I focus on Black marginalized women, this takes even more time to get the story right due to the secrecy at times with informal coop systems. I am working on my fifth book, The Banker Ladies, and the Canadian case is the hard one to do because the ROSCA members – known as the Banker Ladies – hide what they do. The documentary is directed by a Haitian-Canadian filmmaker Esery Mondesir and the goal is to bring awareness and to educate the public about ROSCAs, informal coops, and mutual aid carried out by marginalized Canadian women. The Banker Ladies is hosted on films for action (open access) and it was supported by federal SSHRC funding and the early researcher award by the Province of Ontario. This body of work on ROSCAs in the Americas is based on 11 years of research and I have a book, The Banker Ladies, underway with the University of Toronto Press.           

Barbara Crane Navarro es una artista, autora y activista francesa que actualmente vive cerca de París. Durante 12 años, pasó los meses de invierno con el pueblo Yanomami en Venezuela y Brasil, una experiencia que inspiró su práctica artística y sus esfuerzos de décadas para llamar la atención sobre la devastación de la selva amazónica. Desde crear instalaciones de arte que quema hasta escribir e ilustrar una serie de libros para niños, Crane Navarro es un artista prolífico que tiene el poder de inculcar un sentido de urgencia, responsabilidad y conectividad a todos los que interactúan con sus creaciones. Le contamos sobre sus mayores inspiraciones, en lo que está trabajando actualmente y lo que hace que la selva tropical sea invaluable.

Las siguientes fotos pertenecen a Barbara Crane Navarro y han sido publicadas con su permiso.


Barbara Crane Navarro est une artiste, auteur et activiste française qui vit actuellement près de Paris. Pendant 12 ans, elle a passé les mois d’hiver avec le peuple Yanomami au Venezuela et au Brésil, une expérience qui a inspiré sa pratique artistique et ses efforts de plusieurs décennies pour attirer l’attention sur la dévastation de la forêt amazonienne. De la création d’installations artistiques qu’elle brûle à l’écriture et l’illustration d’une série de livres pour enfants, Crane Navarro est une artiste prolifique qui a le pouvoir d’inculquer un sentiment d’urgence, de responsabilité et de connectivité à tous ceux qui interagissent avec ses créations. Nous lui avons parlé de ses plus grandes inspirations, de ce sur quoi elle travaille actuellement et de ce qui rend la forêt tropicale inestimable.

Les photos suivantes appartiennent à Barbara Crane Navarro et ont été publiées avec sa permission.

By Erika Quinteros

Pedro Castillo has defeated Keiko Fujimori by 44,058 votes. That doesn’t mean the electoral battle is over.

With 100% of Peru’s votes counted, the country has a new president-elect. But will Pedro Castillo have a chance to govern?

On June 6th, Peruvians went to the polls to elect a president in a runoff election between right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori and left-wing contender Pedro Castillo. The night of the elections, the pollster Ipsos gave the first quick count – a method that consists of counting a representative sample of the country’s votes in the presence of the electoral authorities – which showed Castillo ahead with 50.2% of the votes.

Por Nicole Tirado, Paula Gamboa, Tatiana Valenzuela, Yuliana Aborda, Roxanna Barrera y Diana Carolina Ortiz

Nuestra profesor de historia dice que los ciudadanos del siglo XXI ya no se mueven por partidos políticos; ahora los mueve la reflexión de conceptos y narraciones que los constituyen como sujetos políticos, ciudadanos con voz y derecho. En este orden de ideas, hablar de reflexión implica hacer conciencia y esta permite no olvidar que en la historia colombiana el miedo ha habitado el territorio como un ciudadano más. Parte del origen colombiano ha sido la violencia y con esta el miedo; lo sabemos los que reflexionamos y también los que gobiernan. Por eso actualmente vivimos un Paro Nacional con el lema del miedo. La historia que se está entretejiendo de este hecho no es otro que la repetición de la historia colombiana: miedo a la muerte; los desaparecidos cuyas madres lloran su ausencia; cadáveres sin responsable; y discursos que aprueban la violencia por parte de la fuerza pública que defiende el bien público, pero no al público, el cual es su mismo pueblo.

Escrito por Alexia Rauen

Traducido por Pilar Espitia

Como en gran parte del mundo, la pandemia de la violencia contra la mujer también ha azotado a Puerto Rico. En enero de 2021, el gobernador de Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, declaró un estado de emergencia para responder. En mayo de 2021, los puertorriqueños se tomaron las calles para protestar después de que dos feminicidios ocurrieran. Andrea Ruiz fue asesinada por su ex-novio, Miguel Ocasio, después de que no pudo obtener una medida cautelar, y Keishla Rodriguez fue asesinada por el boxeador Felix Verdejo después de confesarle que estaba embarazada de él. La indignación frente a la violencia de género ha llegado incluso hasta Bad Bunny, el artista puertorriqueño de música trap, y cuyo video musical “Solo de mi” muestra a una mujer cada vez más llena de moretones y sangre a punto de salir del escenario, lo que hace presumir al espectador representa el abandono de su agresor. Pero para muchas mujeres en Puerto Rico, hay pocas opciones o protecciones para aquellas que desesperadamente tratan de escapar. De acuerdo con NBC News, las cortes de Puerto Rico han negado el 68% de las medidas cautelares requeridas en los últimos nueve meses.

Puerto Rican flag in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Alexia Rauen

Like much of the world, Puerto Rico has been plagued by the epidemic of violence against women, and in January 2021, Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi issued a State of Emergency in response. In May 2021, Puerto Ricans took to the streets in protest after two femicides occurred. Andrea Ruiz was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Miguel Ocasio after being unable to obtain a protective order, and Keishla Rodriguez was murdered by boxer Felix Verdejo after confessing to him she was pregnant with his child. The outrage over gender violence has reached even Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican trap artist, whose video for “Solo De Mi” shows a woman growing progressively bruised and bloody before leaving the stage in what the viewer assumes is her leaving her abuser. But for many women in Puerto Rico, there are few options or protections for those desperately trying to leave. According to NBC News, the courts in Puerto Rico denied 68% of protective orders requested in the last nine months.