History

    The Call                                      

Some may ask why a church wants to be involved in the work of economic empowerment. The answer is that God is concerned about every aspect of our lives, including our financial well-being. Also, there is nothing more debilitating than poverty to the human spirit. Our concern is to restore God-given dignity to those who have lost theirs, due to poverty or lack of financial management.

The Methodist Church has six pillars of mission upon which it builds its programme. Economic Empowerment is one of them, but it is possibly the most neglected, as it is one of the more difficult to pursue, especially amongst the poorest of the poor.

We work in the Methodist Clerpine Circuit, an area within a radius of about 25kms around Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, where we have the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. God laid it on the hearts of a few of us that we had to do something in partnership with others, to meet some of the massive needs around us.

    Beginnings                                  

When we began in 2008 we were grass green to this kind of work and had very little understanding of what we were doing. We tried a few different approaches, which didn’t really work for us or for the people we were aiming to help. We looked to partner with a successful communal gardening/small farming organization, which didn’t work out. Then we tried the Self Help Group approach, which was better but not productive at all. We also tried a small business training programme, which proved to be far beyond the capacity of the people we were wanted to reach.

In 2011 we were about three years down the track, still trying to find the right approach. About this time, I was invited to visit a very successful Economic Empowerment project in Swaziland. It was very different from what we were able to do. They could draw on funds from their investment company in order to make loans for small businesses. I learned from them the three essential components for successful economic empowerment:

  1. Access to funds
  2. Assessment of a business project’s viability
  3. Accountability for repayment of loans and continuance of the project.

 There was now a structure within which to think.

    A New Approach                           

By now we had formed our own Circuit NPO which we call ‘Siyakhula Sonke’ (We Grow Together). Through a generous donation from our Swaziland connection, we were able to appoint our own part-time field worker and trainer, Zanele Shangase.

We realized that without access to funds (even relatively small amounts), we couldn’t begin to reach the goal of enabling people to form small businesses, through which they would be able to sustain themselves and increase their wealth and begin to live more dignified lives.

We had no capital funds from which to provide loans. In 2014 the chairman of our Board, Duncan Pringle, made us aware of SaveAct, an organization based in Pietermaritzburg, which established savings/credit groups in poorer communities, mainly in Southern African countries. In 2015 they had about 50,000 members in 2,200 groups in their organisation, they were looking for partners, and were willing to take Siyakhula Sonke on board.

Their three stage process involves:

  1. Establishing the Savings/Credit group
  2. Financial Education and
  3. Enterprise Training.

This fitted perfectly with our needs and we have been working successfully with the SaveAct model since 2015. By 2018 we had two Field Officers, two Community Workers and in May 2018 we appointed an Operations Co-ordinator, Mr Tuki Maseatile, to oversee and promote the work. By September 2018 we had 59 groups and 1,021 members. It’s taken time, but I believe God has led us to this point. We have started on Financial Education and we look to start Enterprise Training in 2019. We look forward to great progress in the coming years.

Peter Crundwell                         September 2018

    Founding Board of Trustees           

Duncan Pringle ................... Chairman
Peter Crundwell .................. Vice-Chair
Wendi Tiedt ........................ Operations
Bruce Templeton ................. Secretary
Glynis Stokes ..................... Finance
Thandekile Jessica Nhleko .... Marketing and Fundraising
Andrew Robinson ............... Circuit Superintendent

 

    The First Operational Staff            

Zanele Shangase ................ Project Co-Ordinator and Trainer
Zothani Latha ..................... Project Co-Ordinator and Trainer
Jackson Tokwe ................... Evangelist
Margaret Nxumalo .............. Community Facilitator
Ncamsile Nyathikazi ............ Community Facilitator
Sbongile Chamane .............. Community Facilitator
Thuli Nyembe ..................... Community Facilitator

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