SaveAct’s work and impact was well represented at the first KZN Financial Literacy Association Conference hosted by the KZN Treasury, and held on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus on 3-4 July, 2012.
Researcher Silvia Storchi presented the findings of a recent study financed by FinMark Trust on the successes and long-term potential of SaveAct-led savings and credit groups around Bergville in KwaZulu-Natal and Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. The research suggests that, contrary to expectation, poor people are effective savers, provided they have access to a trustworthy and accessible vehicle for such saving. Finmark’s research shows that in rural areas where people do not have ready access to the formal banking sector and alternative credit streams, SaveAct-led savings and lending groups are playing an important role in lifting people out of poverty and, in some cases, encouraging them to grow their money and financial security through the establishment of small-scale enterprise activities.
Bringing a notable human touch to the research findings was Mrs Ellen Moloi from Obonjaneni in the Bergville area, who attended the conference and provided personal testimony on the positive impact of SaveAct in her life and that of her community since the organisation first introduced savings and credit groups to the area in 2006.
Moloi told the audience that her farming group (she is a member of two SaveAct-led savings and credit groups) was anticipating a collective payout in October of R100 000 which the group would spend on farming-related inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and seed. She said that membership of her other group, which was geared towards raising money for domestic purposes, had relieved what used to be the annual burden of finding enough money to buy school uniforms and send children to school. Moloi said the previously common practice of borrowing money from expensive moneylenders was now no longer necessary; neither was membership of a stokvel in order to ensure money for basics such as food.
Membership of the groups clearly has the potential to build confidence, pride and a marked sense of agency among members. “We are rich; we are even defeating the men,” Moloi said of the group’s farming achievements.
In a poignant reference to the very real and physical effects of long-term poverty, Moloi told the audience: “If SaveAct had come to us when we were young, then perhaps we might not have become diabetic,” she said. “Thank you, SaveAct”.
- SaveAct has plans to scale up its model, so as to spread the benefits to other rural and peri-urban communities in South Africa. SaveAct is seeking partners to support this undertaking. Please contact SaveAct through email@example.com.
Picture caption: from left: SaveAct Programme Co-ordinator (Eastern Cape) Nolufefe Nonjeke-Dlanjwa, researcher Silvia Storchi, SaveAct SCG member Ellen Moloi from Obonjaneni and senior field officer (KwaZulu-Natal) Sibongile Nzuza at the first KZN Financial Literacy Association conference held in July 2012.
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