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Stokvel Academy educates, empowers stokvels of different kinds

Members get opportunity to attend workshops, training programmes

Stokvel members opening their grocery stokvel after having joined hands with Stokvel Academy
Stokvel members opening their grocery stokvel after having joined hands with Stokvel Academy

Stokvel Academy is a platform built in 2013 out of frustration with profit-driven corporate companies and has  become a programme to educate and empower stokvels of different kinds.

Chairpersons, treasurers and other key members are afforded the opportunity to attend workshops and training programmes pertaining to various aspects of the running of stokvels.

“Our founder, stokvel guru Busi Skenjana, gave birth to Stokvel Academy out of frustration with corporate companies whose goal was just to sell and not empower stokvels to utilise and grow their money,” said Siwelile Skenjana, the academy’s project co-ordinator. 

Stokvel Academy aims to shift stokvels from operating solely on a consumer-based approach through empowering them to explore the various entrepreneurial endeavours that exist within the stokvel industry.

While Skenjana admits that Stokvel Academy has not been nurtured, developed and grown to its optimum in previous years, the lockdown came as a blessing in disguise for the organisation. Since the start of the pandemic, a lot more training has been taking place both face-to-face and virtually.

Thus far, the sharing of knowledge and training programmes had all taken place in partnership with the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) departments of various major brands and at no cost to stokvel members.

Outside of attending training programmes, stokvel members are able to register on the academy’s site where they can access informative newsletters and educational blog posts.  

Stokvel Academy now seeks to take things a step further, broadening its offering as far as educational plans and lessons are concerned.

“We are currently in the process of getting our Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) accreditation. We are also working on developing lessons and educational plans, which will take place face-to-face and digitally. We have two facilities, one in Rockville, Soweto, and another in Fairland, Randburg,” said Skenjana.

She also added that while the accredited programme will be a combination of free and paid learning opportunities, the paid learning opportunities will most likely come at very little cost to stokvel members. As it stands, the academy is also looking into making the offering free for people between the ages of 18 and 25.

“We are very passionate about the youth and entrepreneurship. We will continue working with CSI departments so that lessons are sponsored by various brands.”

In making stokvels a success and unleashing the rich potential that exists in the industry, Stokvel Academy believes that entrepreneurship is indeed the way to go. For this reason, they seek to empower stokvels to aspire towards entrepreneurship and the creation of wealth.

“We’re all about empowering stokvels, helping them grow and reach their aspirations of not just being a savings club, but also starting businesses in different sectors. We encourage stokvels to think outside the box, so that their stokvels can service other people as well.

“For example, travel stokvels are quite popular these days. Instead of coming together as a group and saving towards travelling, why not make the stokvel a travel agency?” asked the academy’s projects co-ordinator.

Making your stokvel savings work for you

So you’ve managed to join a stokvel and you’re consistent in your contributions. The time comes when you cash out the savings and you’re satisfied with the amount of money in your possession. What’s next? How do you ensure that the money works for you in the best way possible?

According to Stokvel Academy, planning is key and should be considered as the first step to successfully ensuring that your stokvel savings work for you.

Over and above having a plan and spending wisely, investments and tapping into entrepreneurial endeavours are the way to go, as these can assist you in creating generational wealth. This can be done either individually or as a stokvel.

“There are stokvels sitting with hundreds and thousands in the bank. This money could be put into an investment account and create an investment portfolio, so that the money can grow exponentially.

"We need to look into starting business, running organisations and creating employment. We’re seeing this more and more with stokvels registering companies,” said Skenjana.

Things to consider when starting a successful stokvel

The formation stage of a stokvel is very crucial. It is important to ensure that you do not overlook important aspects which will prove necessary in future. Consider these few tips from Stokvel Academy when starting a stokvel.

Trust is king

When starting a stokvel, make sure it is with people you trust. At a time when digital stokvels are on the rise, the trust factor still remains important. Thus, if you are joining a stokvel where much of the operations take place digitally, make sure you have done your due diligence and are confident that the stokvel you are joining is trustworthy.

Be led by a constitution

A constitution is the bedrock of any stokvel. It also serves as a roadmap, setting out who you are and what you seek to achieve. In an instance where a dispute arises, a constitution can be of great help. Thus, regardless of how informal you may deem your stokvel to be, it is always advantageous to draft a constitution, the terms of which all members must agree upon.

Choose an account best suited for you

When opening a bank account, keep in mind that accounts used by most stokvels may not necessarily be the best account for you if you have different goals in mind. For example, using the type of account typically used by savings stokvels may not necessarily be beneficial to you if your goal as a stokvel is to ultimately start a business. Be sure about how you want to grow your money and familiarise yourself with the different kinds of financial products available.

If you would like your stokvel to be featured, contact us on MasangoN@arena.africa

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