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Arisan: A uniquely Indonesian financial-scheme Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

What will Indonesians do to strengthen the bond between them? They will form an “Arisan”. An arisan is a social club with a limited membership (who are mostly women), and it is uniquely Indonesian. Those who join the club have at least similar backgrounds or interests, such as relatives, office colleagues, ex-coworkers, classmates, former schoolmates, and hang-out friends.


The arisan clubs are informally formed, yet have quite strict rules that all the members must follow. All members regularly pool an agreed amount of money or goods at a particular time, either weekly, biweekly, or monthly at each member’s house or a public gathering place. At regular periods – usually when the money or goods are being pooled – one or more members draw lots to get the amount of money or goods that has been collected. The amount of money or goods received will equal the amount paid to other members; it depends on how many people are allowed to draw in the lottery. Each member will take a turn to win, and the cycle will end when all members have the opportunity to win.

It is very common in Indonesia to be part of an arisan; one person can become a member of several arisans. To the members, it is a way of saving money and borrowing money from their peers.  The forms of Arisan can be varied; it can be an essential form of credit in a poorer social circle or a means to fund an expense, such as schooling, wedding, and fixing or renovating a house.  Nowadays, Arisan has evolved to a purely social rather than a money-saving gathering, specifically to the high-class society.  However, as a source of finance, it represents an alternative to bank loans and other forms of credit.  For unbanked Indonesians, Arisan can be the only way to get any financial service that would give them a lot of advantages as it does not charge interest.

Related words and terms

Indonesian English
Kocok – mengocok (retated To shake a tube till one of the lots fall out which
contains the name of the winner (s)
Giliran The turn to win
Gulungan kertas Rolled of paper filled with all members’ names.
Bergantian / bergiliran take turns
Tarik – menarik to draw (lottery)
Menyicil To pay by installments
Cicilan The installment payments
Menalangi – ditalangi To pay for someone else and will be paid later
Pinjaman Loan
Meminjam To borrow
Tabungan Saving
Menabung To save (money)
Riba (origin: Arabic) Riba is an unjustified increment in borrowing or lending money, paid in kind or in money above the amount of loan, as a condition imposed by the lender or voluntarily by the borrower. Riba defined in this way is called in Fiqh riba al-duyun (debt usury).Source: www.islamic-banking.com/iarticles_8.aspx


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About the Author: asimonoff

I’m an Indonesian language instructor, instructional material developer, reading test developer, and interpreter. I have been teaching Indonesian to adult students for 15 years, and have been teaching students from many backgrounds, such as private, military and diplomatic service employees. I’m Indonesian, but am living in the US now; my exposure to different cultures in my home country and in the US has enriched my knowledge in teaching Indonesian as a second language. I approach the teaching of the Indonesian language by developing students’ critical cultural awareness and competence. This method of teaching has been proven to be a key to the success of my students. Students become conscious of the essential role culture plays in the language.