Members of the community self-select voluntarily to form a group and save money in the form of share purchases. Savings are invested in the loan fund, from which members can borrow and repay with a service charge/ interest. Loans can be used to start small businesses (farming enterprises, tuck shops, etc), building or renovating homes, paying school fees, food, etc.

The interest rate is decided by the group during training and it is not more than 10% per month on the loan taken. It is agreed that the member can borrow not more than three times the member’s share value. The loan can be repaid over a period of three to five months, depending on the age of the group. Older groups extend this to six months.

The group contributes monthly to a social fund to assist members in times of emergency or family crisis, such as a death in a member’s family. Social funds are given to the member as a grant.

SCGs decide how often they will meet, but all thus far have elected to meet once every month, just after social grant payments. All transactions are carried out at the meetings in front of all members of the group. This is to ensure transparency and accountability.

Each group has a lockable cash box with three locks and three sets of keys, which is used to prevent unauthorised transactions. The SCGs are made up of 10-25 members, which may consist of women and men. All members have individual record books where all savings and loan transactions are recorded for each member. These are kept in the cash box.

Each group develops its own constitution which governs the management of the group. There is a management committee (chairperson, record keeper, box keeper, two money counters and three key holders) that is elected by the members.

The group’s capital, together with the profits made, is shared at the end of the agreed cycle, which is 12 months in most cases. The share-out of each member is in proportion to the amount a member has saved throughout the year.