Sinamandla

Sinamandla's misison is to assist, capacitate and support local organisations to promote self-reliance as a central concept within development networks and practices in local communities. Sinamandla's vision is socially and economically empowered women within households made vulnerable by poverty, the impact of HIV and AIDS, gender inequalities and other societal injustices.
Jul 22, 2014

An SHG member achieves her dream to become a nurse

Mamoketi of Itsuseng SHG is now a nurse
Mamoketi of Itsuseng SHG is now a nurse

By mid-June 2014, over 14 000 women were meeting weekly in around 950 Self-help Groups (SHG) in South Africa. The women range in age from their early twenties up to their seventies and eighties in some cases. Often young women in SHGs have dreams to improve their education and even study at tertiary level; many times they never get such an opportunity, mainly due to the high cost of tertiary studies. However, the Sinamandla staff were encouraged recently to meet one SHG member who had fulfilled her dream to study and become a nurse – and it was her SHG who helped her to achieve her dream.

Mamoketi, 27 years, is a member of Itsuseng SHG in Masakane, Mpumalanga, formed in 2009 by Ebenezer, a Sinamandla partner. She lives with her mother, father who is a pensioner, and her nephew. No-one is working in her home. Mamoketi passed her matric well but when she finished school her parents had no money for her to study at tertiary level. Eventually she joined her SHG in 2009.

In 2010 she found herself still without a job and her dreams of doing tertiary studies were not realised. So in 2011 Mamoketi approached her group members and asked them to loan her R15,000 so she could pay the deposit for a pre-nursing auxiliary course. Although her request was highly unusual, the group agreed to give her this huge loan, which she could repay over three years, and she enrolled to be trained as a nursing auxiliary in Johannesburg from 2011 – 2013.

 With the little money she generated herself, she managed to make monthly repayments of R500 per month to her group and her family relatives helped her to come up with the balance of R10,000 to pay towards her school fees.

 Mamoketi, above in her nursing uniform, says that in September 2014 she will be graduating and is looking forward to continuing further with her nursing studies in 2015. “My group has respect for me and we all get along so well, they are very proud that our SHG has produced a nurse; even other young members of my SHG have started thinking they also can pursue their studies. We are so thankful for the R2.00s that started us off.”

 Many thanks for your interest and support. Sinamandla continues to work towards reaching its fundraising targets on GlobalGiving so please consider making a new donation in 2014 in order to help Sinamandla promote the SHG project in South Africa and welcome in more vulnerable women in poor communities to new SHGs in the months ahead.

 Sinamandla sends out a monthly E-newsletter which you can subscribe to via our website and read more stories of SHG women. Please also do like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sinamandlaselfhelpgroup


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Apr 21, 2014

On Our Own

An SHG in Action
An SHG in Action

This report is written by Chi Nguyen, our In-the-Field Traveler for Southern Africa. Chi will be traveling throughout the nine countries of Southern Africa for six months during the first half of 2014, visiting and assisting our current non-profit organization partners.

Fourteen women in knee-length skirts, white shirts, and blue throwovers gathered together in a rondavel in a homestead three hours outside of Durban, in rural South Africa. They pass a dish around the half-circle they have formed, each of them adding 2 Rand (the equivalent of $0.19 in US currency) to the pot and passing the dish on. Once they have all contributed their dues, they proceed with the meeting, going through the agenda and marking in their personal notebooks as well as the group notebook of Minutes. They discuss and document who has loaned what amount, who has repaid their loans, and who has yet to repay their loans. They go over what each individual has accomplished as well as what progress has been made in current projects. It is a very clear and patterned yet empowering process and model.

Every week, each woman in an SHG contributes a certain amount (the starting rate usually being R2.00), thereby creating a pot of money that any woman in the group can loan from. The interest rate on a loan is 10%, so the pot is always growing. Through this, they are able to fund their small businesses, family needs (food, emergencies, burials), home repairs, and more. This model teaches them how to manage money and how to invest. It uses community pressure for accountability, and builds a community between the 15-20 women in the group. Some SHGs have taken the concept of building a strong community to heart, even going insofar as building a rule into their group, stating that if one woman in the group were to have a family member pass away, each fellow SHG member would contribute a certain amount (e.g. 50 Rand) as well as personal services to support their fellow SHG member through her family's difficult time. In addition to providing the women with a place to turn to should they ever need reprieve from or support through from family troubles of any sort (a death in the family, a sick child, or domestic abuse), they've been highly successful in a number of things, including the notable triumph of lobbying the government to build a bridge over a dangerous river that has led to several accidents in the community in the past. 

This river had a history of burdening the entire community of kwaMaphumulo. Many community members crossed this river on a daily basis - women and men to go to work, children to attend school. It flooded for weeks at a time every year, causing children who attempted to cross the river to lose their schoolbooks and women and men to lose their wallets and personal items. In some severe cases, the powerful current of the flooding river had even succeeded in washing out individuals themselves. The women of SHG groups in the area finally decided that enough was enough, and they had to do something about it. They all banded together and with their numbers and persistence, lobbied the government to build a bridge over a river, thereby conquering the obstacles they encountered every year due to the flooding of the river. Today, the kwaMaphumulo bridge stands as a proud example of the possibilties and opportunities behind the SHG model.

Sinamandla's self-sustainable model is truly remarkable, and it was an absolute privilege to be able to witness it firsthand, to see the before and after effects of a loan made from an SHG. We were able to witness the success of two women in building their own houses, thereby improving the lives of their family and their living standards. This is a common occurence in successful SHGs - countless women of SHGs have been able to build their own houses, provide care for vulnerable children, start water projects to benefit the entire community, intiate their own businesses, and accomplish a variety of things that they had never before thought possible. Today, Sinamandla now has almost 13,000 households involved in SHGs, empowering women to take the needs of the community into their own hands with every passing day.

There cannot be enough good things said about the Self-Help Group model, a model that discourages reliance on external forces and encourages self-reliance from Day One. Sinamandla's mission is to place the power in the members of the community, reducing stress through the creation of a supportive community and boosting self-confidence through a sense of ownership... And as I looked at the faces of every woman in the room, I knew this to be true. As Phil said, "The message that it (Sinamandla) sends out to the community is, 'We can do it ourselves.'"

Apr 8, 2014

SHG members sell potatoes to a local supermarket

SHG members receive training on planting seedlings
SHG members receive training on planting seedlings

Zimele Developing Community Self-reliance is a partner of Sinamandla, based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Zimele has formed 414 SHGs with 5 500 members. There are hundreds of SHG members who are active farmers in Zimele’s Agriculture programme. Zimele provides relevant training and support to the women farmers every month.               

In September 2013, many SHG farmers in Swayimane community purchased quality disease-free seed potatoes which were planted and grew well. Two group members took the initiative to negotiate with a local Spar supermarket for the purchase of their potatoes at the end of January 2014; the Spar supermarket owners readily agreed after viewing a sample of the bagged potatoes. SHG members learnt from Zimele how to wash the potatoes by hand and prepare them for packing. They then packed the potatoes in 10kg bags to be sold at Spar.

In January, Masikhule SHG sold 50 bags (half of their harvest) to Spar at R35 ($3.50) a bag; the other half of the crop was sold locally and used by themselves in their households. They planted 75kg of seed and harvested 1000kg of potatoes, resulting in a significant profit. They encouraged other SHGs from all over Swayimane to also sell their potatoes to Spar supermarket and many did so recently. As a result, Spar supermarket has indicated that they would be interested in purchasing vegetables from these SHGs in future.

Masikhule member harvesting her potatoes for sale
Masikhule member harvesting her potatoes for sale

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