Stokvels are pop­u­lar sav­ing schemes in SA

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CON­TRARY to many re­ports, South Africans are sav­ing — and they’re not just do­ing it the Western way, said Mama­pudi Nkgadima, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of African Re­sponse.

A stokvel is one of the most pop­u­lar sav­ings ve­hi­cles, with mem­bers in­vest­ing more than R44 bil­lion each year, said Nkgadima.

While South Africans gen­er­ally have low lev­els of per­sonal sav­ings, stokvels make it eas­ier for peo­ple to save, said Au­drey Mothupi, head of inclusive bank­ing at Stan­dard Bank.

Ac­cord­ing to the Re­serve Bank, house­holds saved an amount of R72 bil­lion, in­di­cat­ing a sav­ings rate of 1,7% over five quar­ters to June.

Mothupi said stokvels en­cour­age sav­ings dis­ci­pline, be­cause they are group sav­ings schemes.

“They al­low peo­ple to meet their fi­nan­cial needs … in a way that suits their life­styles.”

She said mem­bers also get to share their fi­nan­cial lessons with oth­ers be­cause of the group setup.

The lat­est re­search by African Re­sponse showed that in 2011 the aver­age stokvel had 27 mem­bers and each mem­ber con­trib­uted about R210 a month.

Nkgadima said the sur­vey, which will be re­peated this year, cut across race, age and so­cioe­co­nomic bar­ri­ers.

She said the study proved that peo­ple are sav­ing, but that they are just not us­ing Western meth­ods.

“The back­bone of stokvels is based on trust,” Nkgadima said.

How­ever, she also cau­tioned that at times mem­bers bor­row money, which in­curs in­ter­est, to pay their stokvel in or­der not to dis­ap­point other mem­bers.

The last study found there are 350 000 sav­ings stokvels, with a mem­ber­ship of 5,4 mil­lion peo­ple sav­ing about R25,41 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

At a sub­sis­tence level, 129 000 stokvels ac­cu­mu­late about R4,65 bil­lion a year for the pur­chase of gro­ceries for 2,3 mil­lion peo­ple.

There are at least 38 000 in­vest­ment stokvels, serv­ing an es- ti­mated 1,7 mil­lion mem­bers in­vest­ing R2,16 bil­lion in dif­fer­ent in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing sav­ings ac­counts.

One of the in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tions out­lined by the sur­vey found that stokvels are also used by the youth.

Birth­day stokvels are made up mostly of younger mem­bers, with 66% fall­ing into the 16 to 34 age cat­e­gory.

Over half of stokvels ( 66%) have a stokvel bank ac­count where con­tri­bu­tions are de­posited and saved.

“They are, there­fore, an im­por­tant part of the lo­cal econ­omy and will con­tinue to be so for the fore­see­able fu­ture,” said Mothupi. — Fin24.

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