Stokvels as a Community-based Saving Club Aimed at Eradicating Poverty: A Case of South African Rural Women

By Micheal M. Van Wyk.

Published by The International Journal of Community Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: July 10, 2017 $US5.00

Afrocentric ubuntu encompasses the philosophical principles of respect, inclusivity, human dignity, sharing, caring, honesty, communal dependence, and empathy. These principle are manifest in the stokvel, a community-based savings scheme that emerges in economically deprived African townships and rural communities for alleviating financial needs where official channels are inaccessible or do not exist. Stokvels are means of empowering rural African women to face the challenges of surviving in conditions of abject poverty. This article discusses the experience of a stokvel through an interpretive-narrative-based inquiry research paradigm. A purposive sampling method was employed in the selection of four rural women. For ethical reasons, pseudonyms were chosen, namely Mmabatho, Seipati, Anna, and Puleng. Their life journeys in becoming stokvel club activists are followed, and the semistructured interview sessions conducted with participants were transcribed and analysed. This Afrocentric ubuntu-based community practice provides financial support and sustainability to stokvel club members at large. Stokvels, or mahodisanas in Sotho-speaking regions, offer these marginalised rural women the opportunity for a more congenial and better-understood form of savings than do Western-style banks. These stokvel clubs provide an identity and inclusion in a specific culture as well as a savings community. Through stokvel activities, members become empowered, both in urban and rural areas. Stokvels help by supplementing limited earnings, guaranteeing access to credit when needed, and, recently, by providing start-up capital for new small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMES).

Keywords: Stokvels, Community-based Saving Club, Poverty, Rural Women

The International Journal of Community Diversity, Volume 17, Issue 2, July 2017, pp.13-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: July 10, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 824.481KB)).

Micheal M. Van Wyk

Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instructional Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa