Investment groups or chamas have over time brought people together to save, carry out projects and generally empower members. Now in a time where people use the internet to get information, people who are looking to do the same things are joining groups on social media that encourage members to save, give tips on investments and things like that. The 52 Week Savings Challenge Kenya is one of those groups and it has almost 400,000 members. This year the group administrator partnered with Safaricom to encourage people to embrace the concept of savings and take up the 52-week challenge where one can start saving every day from as little as 50 bob a day. Investments: What Chamas Should Do To Attain Their Goals In 2017
I caught up with the administrator of the group to find out more.
Tell us about your background for those who may not know you? How long have you been running the group?
My name is Felista Wangari, a journalist with a passion for personal finance. I’ve run 52 Week Saving Challenge Kenya since January last year.
What made you start the group?
I started the group to encourage people to start saving money to help them meet their financial goals. It was to be some form of an accountability partner. With time, it became apparent that members needed information on money management, Investment and entrepreneurship and that’s what the group has evolved into now.
What challenges have you faced so far?
The group is big and growing 370K+ members. The main challenge is ensuring that the group sticks to its purpose. There are people who want to post irrelevant content, therefore, we had to introduce the measure of “posts have to be approved by admin” just to make sure only relevant posts get on. Then, of course, spammers and weeding them out by going through the comments.
What has been your biggest break so far?
I haven’t had one yet.
What are group members saving for?
The members are saving for different things. The major ones are:
- Business capital
- Investment capital
- Emergency fund
- School fees
- January (Njaanuary) expenses
- Other projects
Twaweza is about community and bringing people together. What is your definition of Twaweza?
The group is my definition of Twaweza. You know, bringing people together to empower each other through sharing useful ideas and information, supporting each other, being helpful towards each other and cheering each other on to the finish line.
What is the greatest opportunity in terms of what you are doing?
The group evolves based on member needs. There has been a call by some members from the very beginning to form some form of financial institution that can serve their interests/needs. That of course comes with its own challenges, but perhaps in five years that might happen. I’ve also had in mind the idea of offering venture capital to members with solid business ideas but no startup or business expansion capital and that should be in place within five years once the kinks are ironed out. In the meantime, we’re taking it one day at a time, addressing the various money management and financial concerns that come up.
The greatest opportunity in terms of what I’m doing lies in the power of harnessing the internet to bring people together and to form helpful, supportive and lasting networks for financial empowerment
What keeps you going as the administrator?
What keeps me going is feedback. Seeing the little and big steps members are taking as a result of the interactions in the group and the outcomes of that keeps me going.
Have members embraced saving on Mshwari?
Yes, a lot of members are saving on Mshwari. Initially, at last count, mid this year, it was the second most preferred option that members were using.
How you are using the 52-week challenge to help the group grow?
Through the members – The idea of saving together brought people on board especially in December 2016 when the results of the challenge became visible. The fact that this is a space where members share ideas to help each other grow also leads to the growth of the group.
Any major highlights/milestones?
The major highlight was December 2016 after a year of doing this and seeing the outcome i.e. people managing to save for their goals, some for the very first time.
Another milestone is whenever members share that they have managed to achieve their various financial goals with a lot of motivation and encouragement coming from being members of the group
What advice would you give people and investments clubs who want to start?
My advice is to start with what you have, no matter how little you think it is. Have a goal, a “what you are saving for”. Be consistent, seek information and people that can help you grow your wealth better and reach your goals.
The group looks like a great place to get some great tips and meet up with other guys who are trying to save. If you are interested check them out here.
Mshwari 52 week challenge: Ideas on what you can do with the savings