To respond to poverty in the region by promoting savings groups as effective instruments for accessing financial services, building sustainable livelihoods and empowering women and other vulnerable groups.
To empower poor and vulnerable groups through social and economic mobilisation to become drivers of positive change.
SaveAct is registered as an NPO: 054-243.
Founded in 2005 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, SaveAct is an established programme and brand with multiple partners and, as of May 2021, 100 000 members. The organisation’s work reaches into the most remote parts of South Africa, building the financial capability of individuals to manage their own financial services, meet consumption needs and invest in sustainable livelihoods. Through saving they have access to large lumps sums of money at reasonable interest rates. This enables them to invest and afford items previously out of reach. SaveAct has 100 000 members who:
- Saved R540m ($36m) last year
- Grow their capital by approximately 25%
- Operate social insurance funds to assist households in times of bereavement or crisis
- Provide loans to members to enable them to afford education for their children, improve their living conditions and invest in farming and other businesses
SaveAct has a database for all 5 245 savings groups and is busy building a database of individual members. These members will form part of a larger collective that works together to improve their lives. They will receive information that equips them to manage their money responsibly, to plan and make wise decisions to secure their family and community interests.
Information is being gathered for each group and for each individual that joins a group. There is extensive demographic data on age, gender, livelihood and financial behaviour.
- 92% of members are women
- 40% are 35 years of age or younger
- 80% of members receive one or more government social grant
- The average saving per member per annum is R45 455.
The dawning of democracy in South Africa in 1994 brought with it a complete and timely overhaul of the procedural democratic system, giving all South Africans the right to vote and to participate in the governance of their country.
While much progress has been made in the past 16 years in setting up and consolidating a national democratic framework, the substantive empowerment of the majority of South Africa’s population has proved to be more elusive.
Despite the introduction of a social grant (cash transfer) system, poverty is endemic, unemployment rates high, and the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. The poor remain socially and economically marginalised, operating at the fringes of the formal economy without secure livelihoods. Increasingly youth are marginalised, contributing to social instability. Youth unemployment is rated as the highest internationally.
Levels of financial literacy are especially low in South Africa, relative to other Southern African countries, and many people fall victim to exorbitant lending rates offered by micro-finance institutions and loan sharks (mashonisas).
Gender inequalities and gender-based violence are pronounced. As noted by the German aid organisation Brot fur die Welt, (Bread for the World), men are usually in control of the family income and women are usually in economically dependent positions that imply lower status and unequal power relations that limit women’s influence on decisions regarding themselves and the family.
The rapid spread of diseases such as HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis results in high levels of mortality and debilitating burdens for poor families. Government patronage has prevailed at the expense of real investments in self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods.
It was in response to these challenges that SaveAct was established. In the absence of national strategies which give people the chance to move out of exclusion and dependency, SaveAct offers a chance for individuals and communities to achieve greater financial security and self-reliance and to become active participants, not only in the fate of their families but in the fate of their communities as well.