The most frequently used words in Botswana in December are probably Christmas and Motshelo. Why the two words come up in conversations more often than any other towards the end of the year is no brainer: Christmas is supposed to be the day for the biggest celebration of the year and often times Motshelo makes the festivity possible.
Senior Social Work lecturer at the University of Botswana, Poloko Ntshwarang says “Metshelo in general are self-help initiatives designed to respond to the problems of poverty and income insecurity in communities. They are thus a form of informal social security. Metshelo enable members to meet their basic needs. They are able to buy groceries and to access lump-sum cash which they can use to meet their basic needs. Access to credit and mini-loans is another key benefit that members derive from metshelo. Interest is charged to borrowers and this helps to augment the savings. When the contributions and the interest charges are pooled together, they enable the motshelo to have a considerable amount of money which can be lent at reasonable interest rates to both members and non-members of the motshelo. In view of the country’s high unemployment rate, gaps in the coverage of social assistance and the rising cost of living I think it is safe to say, metshelo offer a huge relief not only at the end of the year.”
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