Soweto stokvel members share their biggest challenges

Helping hands  members joyful together.
Helping hands members joyful together.
Helping hands / supplied

LET’S GET IN FORMATION: Helping Hands was formed by a few women who live in the informal settlements of Kliptown in Soweto. It now has 30 members. The members decided to form a burial society because they saw the conditions they were living in and how many members in that community could not afford to take out funeral policies.

The society also caters for those who are unemployed and rely on social grants and piece jobs for income. The members are between the ages of 28 and 30.

Read more | Having a stokvel helped this group of men build a strong brotherhood

LET’S TALK MONEY:  Of the monthly contribution, R150 goes towards the funeral policy and the R3 goes towards transport for the stokvel member who will be depositing the money at the bank. With the monthly R150 contribution, members can cover up to nine family members. In the case of a member passing away, the stokvel will pay out R4 500 to the family.

The same amount will also be paid out to a member when they lose a beneficiary. The monthly stokvel contribution is expected on the last day of the month. But members are given seven days’ grace to make payments after the due date. On the seventh day after 8pm, a penalty of R20 is issued should payment not be made.

MEETING:  The members don’t have meetings. They simply drop off the money at the secretary’s home monthly. They have a WhatsApp group for any discussions pertaining to the stokvel. They only gather once a year, usually at the end of the year for their closing party. They also meet at a funeral of a member or a member’s family.

TRIALS: The biggest challenge the Helping Hands has is the fact that about one third of the members are unemployed. This means members often pay their monthly contributions late, causing them to have to pay an additional R20. If it’s hard for them to pay R153 then an additional R20 can have a negative implication on the members’ finances. This is the number-one reason members leave the social club. Discipline is another challenge. When members are on an outing they don’t always behave, which can give the stokvel a bad name.

NAME: Helping Hands LOCATION: Kliptown, Soweto MEMBERS: 30 FORMED: 2016 MEETING: Annually CONTRIBUTION: R153.

Stokvel Corner: Your stokvel is like a brand you do not want to tarnish. Once a brand is tarnished it loses its value and people lose trust in it. If people have only heard bad things about your stokvel, then you risk members in the community not wanting to join the stokvel when you want to grow it. Some families of your members may not want you to attend the funeral of a member or a relative in the fear of the stokvel members behaving badly.

 If you wouldn’t behave badly at your job, don’t do it in the stokvel. A lack of discipline in a social club is a very big deal, treat it as such.

What to think about It is important for the stokvel to have rules. This also covers how members behave in public, especially if they are in their stokvel uniform. There needs to be consequences for any kind of bad behaviour. Members who bring the stokvel into constant disrepute must be removed. A stokvel where people can do what they want can never grow and improve. Do not let anyone or anything affect the growth of something you have put together.

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