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

by Sinamandla
Sep 2, 2013

Women build or extend their home through SHG loans

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's new house built from several SHG loans

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Organization Information


Location: Pietermaritzburg, KZN - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Philip Donnell
Pietermaritzburg, KZN South Africa
$13,978 raised of $20,000 goal
105 donations
$6,022 to go
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