Fund magic: The UCDO’s original revolving fund started out in 1992 with a capital of 1,250 million baht (US$ 39 million), and worked with poor communities in only Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Another 22.7 billion baht (US$ 708 million) from the Thai government‘s yearly budget has been added to the fund’s capital in the 27 years since then. During that time, 2,000 community savings groups have been set up in towns and cities in all 77 of Thailand’s provinces, with savings which now surpass 3.2 billion baht (US$ 102 million), and hundreds of area-based and issue-based community networks have been set up. 10.7 billion baht (US$ 333 million) has been given in various kinds of loans, more than half of which has been repaid. And these loans – from both the fund and from the savings groups – have created assets and additional income worth billions of baht – all in the hands of Thailand’s poorest citizens. And every baht of the CODI Fund is still there, still available, still revolving and helping more people, generating more assets, solving more problems.
In this way, the CODI fund transforms government development budgets into a flexible, accessible finance mechanism that allows communities to link together, examine the problems they face, and use the funds to develop their own strategies to tackle these problems. In the process, communities become the owners of the process – not the government, not CODI.
Of the 22.7 billion baht (US$ 708 million) of government funds that have gone been added to the original fund’s capital, about 5.70 billion baht (US$ 178 million) has been loaned to communities and 16.97 billion baht (US$ 530 million) has been channeled to communities in the form of grants, to address various problems or respond to opportunities. 48% of these grants (about 8.09 billion baht) were subsidies to communities developing housing projects under the Baan Mankong Program (more details about these subsidies in the Baan Mankong section of the website). The remaining 8.88 billion baht (US$ 143 million) of grant funding was used to support various projects to strengthen capacities of community people, bolster their economic well-being and address specific issues. For example, CODI allocated 2.38 billion baht (US$ 74 million) for community capacity-building between 2001 and 2009. Since 2005, the government has channeled 2.75 billion baht (US$ 86 million) to CODI to support the establishment and strengthening of community welfare funds across the country. Grants from the CODI fund have also been used to support community-driven projects that address eviction, to rebuild houses in communities affected by disasters (150 million baht) and to strengthen communities in five strife-torn provinces in southern Thailand (2.37 billion baht).