Twitter rises in defence of ‘ballot committees’ following Rs420m scam by Karachi-based committee leader

Twitter rises in defence of ‘ballot committees’ following Rs420m scam by Karachi-based committee leader

People called them financially convenient for women and recounted personal stories of being able to afford education, cars and living expenses because of them.
05 Dec, 2022

A woman reportedly defrauded people of millions of rupees through ‘committees’, starting a debate on Pakistani Twitter as to the relevance of committees in this day and age. The discourse raised questions such as was it really wise for the scammed people to have invested in this in the first place? How can people rely on committees when there are banks? How do committees work and why do people still prefer them over formal financial institutions? Twitter users shared their personal success stories, defending the age-old method.

Recently, hundreds of people, mostly women, were robbed of Rs420 million allegedly by a Karachi-based social media influencer and businesswoman, Sidra Humaid, who ran a monthly ballot committee system — a means of interest-free savings and pooling money commonly known as BC or committees — without keeping any written records of depositors/contributors, which resulted in the whole scheme ending in total fraud.

While some jumped in to criticise the victims of this scam and the committee method of saving money, others were quick to counter this by calling the former out on their privilege and listing a host of factors that form people’s preference of committees.

Netizens shared personal experiences of their parents being able to afford many of life’s necessities through committees. They emphasised on how banks have not been as accommodating to their mothers, who then resorted to what was convenient and accessible to make ends meet.

They also made a comparison with bank loans and how they failed people.

Even a student could vouch for committees coming to their aid when their salary was not enough to cover their expenses.

Twitter users stressed that reliability is core when it comes to investing in committees. Consequently, it has enabled many women to find a semblance of financial independence and build their assets.

This user attributed popularity of committees to them being a “social alternative to private, commercial lending”.

What really needs to be addressed, according to a netizen, is the failure of formal financial systems and lack of financial literacy.

What is your take on committees?