Savings club aiming to be people's bank

Businesswoman and beauty spa owner and treasurer of First Investment Club Xoli Kubeka has big dreams for the club.
Businesswoman and beauty spa owner and treasurer of First Investment Club Xoli Kubeka has big dreams for the club.
Image: Xolile Mtshazo

While other people use stokvels to save for December holiday festivities and the January cash crunch, Xoli Kubeka and members of her investment club have other ideas.

They are planning to take their savings and investments scheme, First Investment Club, to another level by turning it into a registered money lender and eventually a cooperative bank.

A cooperative bank, unlike a commercial bank, is owned and operated by its members for a common purpose, for instance providing financial services to small businesses.

Founded in Alexandra, northern Joburg by Kubeka and five other members in 2015, First Investment Club now boasts 10 members.

In their first year, they saved more than R100000, which is now in a trust account.

"Our aim is to empower people financially because we've experienced the difficulties people face when they lose their jobs," says Kubeka, the owner of Heavenly Relaxation Spa, the first and only spa and beauty business in Alexandra.

Kubeka, 28, who is treasurer of the club explains how it was formed: "I'd always wanted to own a business. It was my ambition since my teen years. Nine years ago, I realised that dream.

"But immediately thereafter I was diagnosed with nail fungus and it affected my business adversely. That is when I decided that a stokvel was the way to go as it would lessen the dependency on the job market not only for me but for every member," she says.

Kubeka says the investment club has capable members with great ideas.

The chairman of the club is Simphiwe Kubeka (no relation), a photojournalist and PR and marketing strategist.

Other members include top actors Sibusiso Madondo, better known as Williams on Gold Diggers and Harriet Manamela, who plays Meikie Maputla in Skeem Saam.

"Investing as a scheme is meant to sustain us in future. Every year we have new members joining the club. The growth is scary and the opportunities are in abundance because we are all professionals and business owners," says Kubeka.

"We are working on registering as a money lender, borrowing people money to return it with interest is big business in South Africa."

"Stokvels are an old institution in our black communities, it's been there even before our mothers and grandparents but it is how we the present generation innovate the concept to suit our current needs and aspirations," says Kubeka.

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