This year has probably been the toughest in memory for most of us. It’s been one of lost jobs, retrenchments and businesses under strain. We tend to look abroad for solutions to local problems when, in fact, we have ways of joining forces and pooling strategies right here.
It is with this in mind that black-owned company Kunene Makopo Risk Solutions launched a digital stokvel app. Stokvels are, by definition, innovative, exclusive clubs of 12 or more people serving as rotating credit unions or savings schemes in which members contribute a fixed amount to a central fund on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
This largely hidden economy has been around since 1932, when it was pioneered in disadvantaged communities as a means to get through financial turmoil.
Speaking to #Trending ahead of the Imbewu StokVest app roll-out, Kunene Makopo Risk Solutions head Bangi Makopo told us about creating the app: “On a December night two and half years ago, one member of our team sent a text in our product development WhatsApp group, suggesting that we develop a stokvel product because [saving] is one thing we all want to do but find difficult.
“Then his ‘aha!’ moment sparked the other creative minds to build on this product, which will help you save, keep your money safe and cover your family in an unfortunate event.”
With Imbewu StokVest, you will be able to select one of three plans and contribute the minimum monthly amount – akin to planting imbewu, a seed – for a 12-month cycle and reap the fruits of the savings on the anniversary of your policy.
“After 24 months, the individual will receive a loyalty bonus payout. Also included in the Imbewu StokVest cover is funeral cover,” Makopo says.
“The stokvel is something most families in South Africa relate to and has always helped middle to lower class families get through hard times.
“South Africans find it difficult to save, owing to underlying financial circumstances. The e-stokvel is an electronic, digitised form of a stokvel. We took a digital-era direction to make the lives of our people better, inclusive and accessible.”
There is no link between the app and the soap opera Imbewu: The Seed, but this company is not so far removed from the realm of entertainment.
“In fact, Imbewu StokVest has been operating for quite some time, having partnered with the SA Film and Television Awards for the past two years to provide a cash prize and cover to the best actor and best actress categories, with the beneficiaries being Sindi Dlathu, Moshidi Motshegwa, Presley Chweneyagae and Rob Kyle.”
Makopo boasts that Imbewu StokVest is created “by abantu for abantu [by the people for the people]”.