Having grown up in a household of women who belonged to various stokvels, Mametse knows first hand about the economic power held in the estimated R50 billion market.

And while most banks and financial institutions are now offering savings products tailored for stokvels, he says many groups are unhappy with the interest rates offered, while others are somewhat untrusting of banks.

Mametse started StokvelEx four years ago with the intention of bridging the disconnect between stokvels and service providers through a conversational platform and an annual exhibition that would enable the parties to understand each others’ needs and come up with solutions that help drive financial growth.

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“When we entered this space, there was a disconnect between service providers and the informal market. Many stokvels felt disgruntled with service providers that were introducing once-off products or services for the stokvel community without understanding their model or social standing in society. Our mission is to drive a robust township economic activity and give clarity on how these informal markets can become an organised sector with the intention of empowering their own communities,” Mametse says.

“Through the exhibition we bring in different companies to educate stokvel groups around the benefits of investing their money and growing their money for a greater purpose than saving for groceries and funerals. We challenge them to start thinking about investing in property or start learning to trade in the stock market – basically, learning how to use their money more effectively” he says.

In partnership with the North West Department of Economic Development, Memetse has identified stokvels that will participate in a pilot incubation programme with the end goal being enabling them to function as co-operative businesses.

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“It’s about learning new ways to start growing the stokvels as a business. Then you will be able to start growing your own communities because, as co-operatives, they will now be able to trade as a business and offer their services to their own communities. In that way, the community is also thriving,” he says.

StokvelEx currently holds annual exhibitions in the North West, Soweto and Limpopo, but Mametse says the long-term strategy is to roll out the exhibition in other provinces and replicate the idea in other countries in the SADC region.

Ideally, he would also like to see stokvels come together to create a national co-operative bank.