Embrace village banking concept in families

LEONISSA Chalabesa.

IN THE recent past, we have experienced and noticed a rise in different ways of managing money among different groups of people. The most common is “village banking”.In village banking, members deposit an amount of money weekly or monthly into a chosen account.
While some groups allow lending and attach a small percentage of interest when paying back, mainly for the purpose of increasing funds, others use it just as a saving tool with no interest charged on borrowed funds.
Whatever the case may be, there has been an increase in the number of people that have gone into saving, which really is a new concept for most Zambians.
The issue of saving has in the past been a by-the-way thing. It is therefore encouraging to see people save small amounts to large amounts of money for future use.
At the end of the year beneficiaries are expected to collect what they have saved and in other cases with interest. The money comes in very handy when one wants to invest into a business or to go on a holiday or to use it to pay school fees.
After analysing the whole concept of village banking, it got me thinking: if this concept could be embraced by many families, a lot of the challenges faced in extended families would be reduced. For example, if between ten and twenty families who are related came together regardless of social status and began a fund, that fund would be given a name depending on the purpose for it.
For argument’s sake, if ten families contributed K100 each every month that would give the fund K1,000 every month or K2,000 every month if there were twenty families. This money would not be touched until or unless there was a need such as a kitchen party, a wedding, a funeral, the unveiling of a tombstone, or to pay college fees.
The money could also be used to help out or cushion someone’s urgent needs. The fund should not be used unnecessarily, such as on luxuries, but should be used only when there are pressing issues.
In every family there is one or two or more people who have no jobs. Such family members depend on “alms giving” from other family members. The savings fund could help the family members depending on “alms” to start a business and in that way would be helped to learn to stand on their own.
Equity in this case must be considered as this is a fund meant to lessen poverty in families and to avoid over-dependence on one family member who is usually seen as some kind of a “messiah” or the “saviour” of the other family members.
One family member must be put in charge of keeping the accounts and giving a report to the rest of the family members on the state of the fund.
This can be done on family WhatsApp groups and once in a while at a family meeting to look at the way the fund is performing. The money could be saved in an account, depending on the amounts being contributed monthly.
Each family could show proof of deposit and active members could be given priority when it came to being helped.
No person is rich enough not to receive help just like no person is too poor not to give anything. Each family must be encouraged to contribute something.
Family members must feel free to contribute as much as they can to the fund.
If the idea of having a family fund could be adopted, the issues of extended families languishing in poverty would be reduced, unsponsored students would be helped, orphans would have hope and in turn the number of poor family members and street kids would be reduced.
As Africans, extended families are important. Unfortunately, with time there has been a disintegration of extended families. Families come together only when there are funerals or weddings.
In the event that there are no funerals, weddings or any other major event, funds could be allowed to accumulate for future use or investments.
Families would be united through the fund and with time financial empires could be built. Imagine ten family members that make a monthly contribution of K500.
This would give them K5,000 in one month. In 12 months with K60,000 in its account, that family could invest in a lucrative business that would even employ workers to manage it.
While poverty cannot easily be eradicated, the village banking concept is a brilliant idea that could be used to combat it.
Embrace and share this concept to help alleviate poverty in families.
The author is a Lusaka-based teacher.

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