‘’Mosadi thari ya sechaba”, as one Setswana saying goes is so true because a woman does all in her power to carry her family.
In an age where we are plagued with recessions, unemployment and just generally downward spiralling financial patterns, the women in our lives have been doing a pretty good job keeping households afloat amidst all these crisis.
I haven’t felt a pinch of the recession and change in lifestyle due to financial constraints all because it seems my mother and her friends always have a new trick up the sleeve to combat all these financial crisis that have been attacking us.
A Motswana woman swears by her financial club, which is popularly called motshelo. Through it, she has easy access to loans that she can negotiate her way at not paying them off at the agreed time and re-negotiate the interest rates at anytime.
She does not need to have an account, or bring forth past bank statements; all that is needed is her word that she will pay back the amount in full plus interest.
Of late, there has been an introduction of new services that have drawn the younger generation into these financial clubs, possibly as an effort to improve services offered.
First, it was just the end of month stokvels where women would come together to celebrate and contribute for one club member and they would rotate like that.
Then they moved it to be an end of year event but instead of contributing just onetime, contributions were made monthly and the money given out to anybody who might be interested at a certain interest rate, then the money would be split at the end of the year and that is how we knew and understood it to be.
Here is a look at some of these new trends in these financial clubs:
LIVING ROOM TOP UP
About a year ago, my sister told me she was having a living room top-up and wanted me to help her with designs for the invitation cards.
The first thing I wanted to know from her, of course, was what a living room top-up was.
She explained that she wanted to bring new stuff into the house and brighten up the place but did not have the money to do it so she had asked a few of her friends to help out.
She wrote down a list of the things she wanted and each person chose what to buy for her.
On the day of the event she provides food and refreshments and they get to catch up as friends and by the time everyone goes home, her living room has a makeover. From living room top up, I heard of bedroom top-up which works the same way but only this time it is bedroom things which are provided.
BUILDING TOP UP
My aunt later told me about a friend of hers who was having a building top up and each person was to buy a bag of cement for her plus any other building material; whatever they bought had to amount to P500.
GROCERY TOP UP
This is the one I found the most interesting because it showed me just how far a woman will go to make sure that her family is well taken care of and provided for.
Whatever grocery items you need for your house you put down on the list. Even if you want to stock up on your starches for the next 6 months, there is no limitation just as long as they don’t cost more than the maximum every person participating is expected to contribute. It is not begging because as much as you get a grocery top up you are going to do the same for others in your group. With this one the family will never go hungry.
BABY SHOWER AND GRANNY SHOWER
Baby showers are not a new thing for us, but I think the way they are done these days is what is new to us. It never used to be an expensive affair, but now by the time a baby shower ends the baby has everything they will need until they are a year old. This includes everything from baby soap, clothes to a baby cot and a year-long supply of pampers. If the contributions at the baby shower were not enough, there is also a granny shower where the grandmother and her friends get together and see what they can do for the baby, some even go as far as contributing in monetary terms.
UNREGISTERED CASH LOANS
These have always been there but they are worth mentioning because, more than anything else, they are the ones that show just how much women carry our society and how they are financial gurus.
First, it was groups of women coming together and contributing money so that it could circulate amongst themselves and they could use it whenever they were burdened financially but word quickly got out so they decided to lend out money to whoever might need it at an interest rate throughout the year and they would get to split the money at the end of the year. It is now a business that has grown so big that even people in high ranking positions at their work places come to these women for loans and have forged such a strong relationship with them that no one ever thinks of cheating them.
After going through all these, I have two questions, has the recession affected the woman folk and who is the financial manager of the house? The answer for the first question is simply ‘no’ because for as long as a woman has a brain she will always find a way to make sure that there is always enough money to keep her household afloat.
And the financial manager?
Well, it is, of course, the financial guru of the household who seems to have an endless supply of money stashed some place where only a woman has access to.