Thailand's Sher Game

Features of the Sher Game:

  1. Share "Game" - A traditional communal way of saving: Because of its communal nature, it is spelled according to its English derivative (Share) since money is actually shared by each member every time. It is a game in the sense that there is an element of risk and gambling, which its participants have to take in a competitive situation.

  2. To organize share "game': The game is organized through the initiative of any person who may later become the leader. It is not necessarily the case that he automatically becomes the leader - sometimes he/she is appointed by the members. Once the decision to organize is made, the initiator's network of personal relationships is ativated and mobilized. Sometimes the idea may germinate as a suggestion in a gathering of friends. In others, it may be a repeated cycle of a previously begun game.

  3. Leader (Thao) The Leader is one who generally organizes the game and is recognized as the formal head of the game. He functions as the facilitator of the group by collecting the contributions, officiating the biddings, making the necessary computations and disbursing the interest and pot. His position is important since he is responsible for the game's success.

  4. Member or Shareholder (Luk Mu) Since an important feature for the success of the game is mutual trust among members, they are ususally related to one another by friendship or kinship ties. In some cases, it is not unusual to find some members who may be total strangers to others. In this case, the only link between this unknown member and others is the leader himself who guarantees this member. A member may have more than one share and similarly may participate in more than one game (ng wong) under different leaders.

  5. Price per share (Loon share) The amount a person subscribes or contributes in each payment period to the leader (e.g. 100 baht per share). If a person has two shares (sher song mu) he has to pay twice the regular contribution per payment period, but he is also entitled to receive the pot twice.

  6. Bidding (Piao Sher) Those who need the money for a payment period will bid and the highest bidder will get the pot. The bid is usually less than the contribution although it may be equal or more than the contribution. Bidding is done by secret balloting.

  7. Interest (Dok Bia) This is the amount the highest bidder has to pay every member for getting the loan at that period. It is either deducted from or added to the pooled amount depending on the type.

  8. Pot (Ngunsher) The amount of money a member receives when he is the highest bidder. The pot is either equal or less than pooled amount.

  9. Share "Alive" (Sher Pen) This implies that the owner of the share has not yet received his pot. Therefore, when the share is still "alive", it means that the member is still eligible to bid and receive his pot for as long as his share is "alive".

  10. Share "dead" (Share Tai) This implies that the owner of this share has already received his pot (piao leow) and is, therefore, not eligible to bid int he succeeding periods.

  11. Payment Day (Wan Long Sher) This is the agreed upon date for the members to congregate,pay their contributions to the leader, and for those who need money, to bid. This is on an agreed upon day or date of the month.

  12. Duration of the payment period This determines the interval between payment days. The different type by payment periods found in a slum are:
    1. Daily share (sher rai wan)
    2. 5-day share (sher ha wan)
    3. 7-day share (sher ah tit)
    4. 10-day share (sher sip wan)
    5. 15 day share (sher ah wik or sher sipha wan)
    6. monthly share (sher rai deuan)
Table: Comparision of three main type of share games.

Total pooled amount of Constant Increase accord- Constant money ing to accumul- ated interest of past periods
When interest is All throughout No interest Interest is received by members the game except received on received up to the when the member each payment period before the receives the pot period member receives the pot.
Number of member All, except the Only the one Equal to the number receiving interest member who who gets the pot of remaining payment receives the pot but interest periods. received is from previous periods
Member's eligibility Member Member Member to bid after disqualified disqualified disqualified receiving the pot
Contribution (after Less than full Full price plus Full price of receiving a pot) in price of share bid made share succeeding periods
Behaviour of pot with variation attri- increases decrease of pot resect to pooled buted directly according to related to bid and amount to bids accumulated number of members who interest of past have not received the periods pot (or payment periods left)
Abstracted from:
Sevilla, Ramon (1976), Share Economics: A Study of a Communal Savings System in a Bangkok Slum. Unpublished Master's Thesis (No. 1196). Bangkok: Division of Human Settlements Development, Asian Institute of Technology

Hari Srinivas -
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