By Carol Mohlala

Makawana Farmers Stokvel was established in 2017 by a group of young farmers around Kuruman in the Northern Cape after the province was hit by severe droughts in 2016. It initially had twenty members and has continued to grow ever since. Stokvel talk spoke to Paballo Motumi who is the Deputy Chairperson of the Stokvel.

Paballo explains that the “whole idea was to save money, each member of the stokvel contributes a certain amount each month until December. Then the money gets shared at the end of the year or they use it to buy feeds and other agricultural products”. The money saved during the year is also used as emergency loans for members in need during the year. The interest paid on these emergency loans are also shared at the end of the year, giving the members the confidence that their money continues to work for them at all times.

The stokvel is not only about money but is also a social platform, “we don’t only focus on contributing money, but also support each other, that can be by visiting our members’ businesses and giving them advice and also be there for them emotionally, basically offer them the support they may need as individuals” Paballo said

 The year 2020, was not an easy year for the stokvel members. As the country battled Covid19 and went into lockdown, some of the members were severely affected by this. Paballo says that “because the Makawana Farmers Stokvel is comprised of individuals who own different agricultural businesses, each business was affected differently, and as a result, we’ve seen contributions from members decreasing, some were unable to contribute like they used to, some struggled to maintain their business.

The Makawanda Farmers Stokvel during this difficult time assisted their members with the provision of microloans, members were able to borrow contributions that they were saving to maintain their businesses, and they returned the money within a certain period. That helped to get them back on their feet meanwhile maintaining a good financial status in the stokvel.

The Covid19 pandemic was not the first time the farmers in Kuruman faced distraught challenges, After the drought that hit Northern Cape in 2016, the young farmers came together and thought it would help if they save money for rainy days, this helped because they were not dependent solely on their businesses for income but also together as a group started a sheep project that was meant to assist in supplementing the stokvels income and therefore improving sustainability for all stokvel members. By the time the pandemic became a reality, the stokvel had already learnings from previous experiences on how to overcome challenges that directly impact their income.

The Makawanda Farmers Stokvel is also encouraging other young entrepreneurs to start their stokvels, Paballo said that the stokvel is in a process of starting a mentorship programme where it will be encouraging other young people to start and maintain their stokvels.

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