Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa

 
$12,628
$7,372
Raised
Remaining
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.'"

Mam
Mam' Dladla paid for her own water tap

Thousands of Self-help Group (SHG) members do not have access to clean drinking water in their home before they join their group. Many use a community tap or fetch water from a nearby river. However, once they are a group member, dozens have taken a group loan to enable them to pay to have a water tap put on their property or have bought a water tank. Mam’ Dlaldla and Mam’ Hlophe share their experiences.

Mam’ Dladla, a pensioner, is a member of Masibambisane SHG in Rookdale, outside Bergville, formed by USIZO, a Sinamandla partner in KwaZulu-Natal. She is 80 years old and she cannot stop sharing about how being a member of her group has made a positive impact in her life. One of the major benefits she relates is the comfort and freedom of knowing that she has a source where she can access loans for her urgent needs.

She says: “I am an elderly person living on my own as my children have their own families. This means that even some of the basic household chores are too much for my frail body. One of the tasks I could not perform was fetching water from the communal tap since I did not have a tap in my yard. Therefore, I would always rely on some young men in the community to push a wheelbarrow to fetch water for me. This was at a cost as I had to pay R5 per each 20 litre of water delivered.  

I then decided that the solution to my water challenge would be to have a tap in my yard. This is where my ‘SHG bank’ came in; I took a loan of R1,000 from my group and added R550 from my pension. Through that loan I was able to pay someone to put this tap in my yard. I then repaid my loan to my group. This is such a relief as I can now access clean water myself at any time instead of relying on other people to fetch it for me; and I save as I now longer pay someone. I am really grateful to this programme”

 Mam’ Hlophe of Nkululeko SHG also formed by USIZO in Maswazini Village near Bergville decided to take out a loan from her SHG and purchased a Jojo water tank so that her household could harvest water during the rainy seasons. She says she is grateful to be a member of her SHG which has afforded her the opportunity to bring such a necessity to her home, where she is now in a position to provide clean drinking water that will improve the quality of life for her seven family members.

In 2013 Sinamandla worked in partnership with 12 NGOs who are implementing the SHG Programme in rural local communities in 5 provinces in South Africa. In total, 12 626 SHG members participated in 844 SHGs. By the end of 2013, these SHGs had accrued own income of around R3,2 million from which 59 148 loans amounting to around R12,5 million had been given out to SHG members. Over 80 000 household members are benefitting from having an SHG member in their family.

Many thanks to all our donors, we appreciate your 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 and welcome in thousands more vulnerable women in poor communities to new SHGS in the months ahead.

Please do think of any family member or friends who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them this newsletter or our website link. Please also like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sinamandlaselfhelpgroup

Mam
Mam' Hlophe purchased a water tank for her home
SHG members sell fuit and veggies at a Market Day
SHG members sell fuit and veggies at a Market Day

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, the crops are all growing”... This is what many of the SHG members of Zimele, who have food gardens, were singing in recent months. Zimele is Sinamandla’s largest SHG partner, based in KwaZulu-Natal province, and they received significant funding to expand their SHG project to all districts within the province over the next two years – already they have over 350 SHGs and more than 4 000 women in their groups.

 The women involved in Zimele’s Agricultural Programme have planted a variety of crops this year that are growing well, thanks to good rains. Most women grow fruits and vegetables for home consumption while many also grow them to sell locally. Many bought quality seed potatoes at the Farmers Day held in Swayimane in June. For those women who planted early there should be a good harvest at a premium price in December. Other vegetable seedlings were purchased too and these will also be ready to harvest soon.

 “It is a beautiful sight to see new growth everywhere,” says Hannes Mentz, Zimele’s Agricultural Programme co-ordinator. “In October the Zimele SHG farmers received training in the growing of seed potatoes. Three nurseries were established, each with seven varieties of potatoes, and the farmers will be able to purchase vines from these nurseries. We also have begun the promotion of butternut seedlings. Each farmer received a number of these seedlings to try out and we will be holding a competition for the farmer with the best yield.” Twelve of the SHG farmers recently entered a nationwide competition to grow giant pumpkins.

Forty Zimele farmers will soon have the opportunity to attend a week-long agricultural training course, mainly focusing on increasing soil fertility. Six of the Zimele Farmer Support Groups have each adopted a local crèche and will assist each crèche to create their own food gardens to feed their children from. The children will also be involved in caring for the food gardens.

Many thanks to all our donors, we appreciate your support that enables Sinamandla to support Zimele and another 11 organisations with SHG projects during 2013. Sinamandla continues to work towards reaching its fundraising targets on GlobalGiving so please consider making another donation in 2013 before year-end in order to help Sinamandla promote the SHG project and welcome in thousands more vulnerable women in poor communities to new SHGS in the months ahead.

Please do think of any family member or friends who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them this newsletter or our website link.

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, the crops are all growing”... This is what many of the SHG members of Zimele, who have food gardens, were singing in recent months. Zimele is Sinamandla’s largest SHG partner, based in KwaZulu-Natal province, and they received significant funding to expand their SHG project to all districts within the province over the next two years – already they have over 350 SHGs and more than 4 000 women in their groups.

 

The women involved in Zimele’s Agricultural Programme have planted a variety of crops this year that are growing well, thanks to good rains. Most women grow fruits and vegetables for home consumption while many also grow them to sell locally. Many bought quality seed potatoes at the Farmers Day held in Swayimane in June. For those women who planted early there should be a good harvest at a premium price in December. Other vegetable seedlings were purchased too and these will also be ready to harvest soon.

 

“It is a beautiful sight to see new growth everywhere,” says Hannes Mentz, Zimele’s Agricultural Programme co-ordinator. “In October the Zimele SHG farmers received training in the growing of seed potatoes. Three nurseries were established, each with seven varieties of potatoes, and the farmers will be able to purchase vines from these nurseries. We also have begun the promotion of butternut seedlings. Each farmer received a number of these seedlings to try out and we will be holding a competition for the farmer with the best yield.” Twelve of the SHG farmers recently entered a nationwide competition to grow giant pumpkins.

 

Forty Zimele farmers will soon have the opportunity to attend a week-long agricultural training course, mainly focusing on increasing soil fertility. Six of the Zimele Farmer Support Groups have each adopted a local crèche and will assist each crèche to create their own food gardens to feed their children from. The children will also be involved in caring for the food gardens.

 

Many thanks to all our donors, we appreciate your support that enables Sinamandla to support Zimele and another 11 organisations with SHG projects during 2013. Sinamandla continues to work towards reaching its fundraising targets on GlobalGiving so please consider making another donation in 2013 before year-end in order to help Sinamandla promote the SHG project and welcome in thousands more vulnerable women in poor communities to new SHGS in the months ahead.

 

Please do think of any family member or friends who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them this newsletter or our website link.

SHG members receive training on planting seedlings
SHG members receive training on planting seedlings
Gcinisephi and her children outside her new house
Gcinisephi and her children outside her new house

The average household size for women who are a member of a Self-help Group (SHG) in South Africa is 6-7 people. Some households have more than ten members and are multi-generational with grandmother, mother and children living together. In many cases, there are only 2-3 rooms in their home when they initially join an SHG, which are used for living and sleeping and cooking.

However, more and more SHG members are taking a loan to build an extra room in their home or to renovate their home (roof or window repairs or strengthening walls). Some SHGs really focus on this and members agree to pay a second amount besides their weekly SHG saving of R2.00 ($0.20) – from as much as R20 ($2) up to R100 ($10) can be saved each month by every SHG member towards home loans. Each month one or two members will receive a larger amount of R500 ($50) or even R1,000 ($100); and this continues month after month until all members have received a home loan to build or renovate as they wish. Often SHG members assist that person to physically build or renovate her home.

In some communities, people are now talking and are excited about “SHG houses”, built by SHG members; these women are no longer waiting for years to receive an “RDP house” from the government, but are being active in using SHG loans to build and extend in whatever ways that they like.

Gcinisephi from Inhlanzeko SHG, in KwaZulu-Natal province, receives two child support grants (R290/$29 each per month) and she is staying with her husband who is unemployed. She loaned R300 from her group in early 2013 to meet travel costs in order to find work at a neighbouring farm cutting grass for extra income for her household and to be able to make her loan repayments. Gcinicephi also had a dream of building a rondavel and so in March 2013 she requested a loan of R500 from her group which she used to pay someone for thatching and to purchase wood. She then built the house herself with the help of her SHG members. Her husband told her that he was so proud of her. After completing the room she was so happy and said that now she will be able to be visited by her relatives. She has previously loaned from her group for school uniforms for her children, food, transport and health costs. She says she has learnt that she can do things for herself.

Masibiya Mthimkhulu, a member of Sakhisizwe SHG, in KwaZulu-Natal province, is a widow who stayed with seven adult family members and five children in a four-roomed house. She desperately wanted to build a house for her family as the one she stayed in was not only small for the number of people living with her but was also full of cracks as it was old. She started loaning money from the group to buy cement and sand to make bricks. Once she had enough bricks for building, she then loaned for more building material and someone to build for her. Today she is the proud owner of a new two-room house, which also has a bath-room, next to her old house. Her daughter expressed how frustrating it was with everyone packed in the other old house saying, “Now we have a new house and a bigger space as we still use the old house too”.

Many thanks to all our donors, we appreciate your support. Sinamandla continues to work towards reaching its fundraising targets on GlobalGiving so please consider making a donation in 2013 before year-end in order to help Sinamandla assist thousands of vulnerable women in poor communities to become an SHG member. Please do think of any family member or friends who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them our website link.

MaSibiya
MaSibiya's new house built from several SHG loans
Egg-citing news from Masime CLA in Eastern Cape
Egg-citing news from Masime CLA in Eastern Cape

The Self-help Group (SHG) Project encourages women to save weekly and loan monthly from their group fund, especially to assist them to start or expand their own small business or income-generating activities. Thousands of
women across five provinces in South Africa are engaged in these activities every month in 2013.

Dozens of SHGs also have their own group income-generating activities; and even some SHG Clusters, called a Cluster level Association (CLA), also initiate and manage larger income-generating activities on behalf of and with many SHGs. Masime CLA, formed by Angus Gillis Foundation (AGF), a Sinamandla partner based in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, launched their egg-laying project about nine months ago. This initiative is made up of 10 SHGs, representing over 150 women - most of the groups have their own group income-generating projects such as a bakery, broiler chicken projects, soap-making and small scale buying and selling, as well as community development initiatives including two ‘Safe Parks’ or non-formal childcare centres.

The aim of the Masime CLA egg-laying project is to support their member SHGs and to provide a source of larger loans for establishing and expanding SHG small businesses. This CLA has secured a weekly order of 150 eggs from the local secondary school and hundreds of their eggs are selling well locally. In recognition of what the CLA had already
achieved, AGF was able to secure funding to contribute towards the costs of training, basic cage materials, feed and the first 100 hens. After 4 months, over R8 000 profit had been made through the project.

In 2013, Sinamandla is working with 11 partnes in 5 provinces within South Africa. Sinamandla is positively impacting almost 7,000 rural women in 450 SHGs and over 40,000 household members are benefitting by having their mother or grandmother as an SHG member. During 2012, partners worked with SHGs who had made over 35,000 loans to their members worth around R6 million.

Many thanks to all our donors, we appreciate your support. Sinamandla continues to work towards reaching its fundraising targets on GlobalGiving so please consider making another donation in 2013 in order to help Sinamandla assist thousands of vulnerable women in poor communities. Please do think of any family member or friend who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them our website link.

Eggs are sold locally and supplied to a school
Eggs are sold locally and supplied to a school

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Organization

Sinamandla

Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa
http://www.sinamandla.org.za

Project Leader

Philip Donnell

Pietermaritzburg, KZN South Africa

Where is this project located?

Map of Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa