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FEDUP wins national Govan Mbeki award

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

It is a pleasure to announce FEDUP’s award for best enhanced People’s Housing Process (ePHP) project at this year’s national Govan Mbeki Awards ceremony hosted by the Department of Human Settlements in Cape Town. FEDUP national coordinator, Rose Molokoane, received the award for the Mafikeng 200 housing project on behalf of FEDUP North West on 13 August 2015.

Rose Molokoane (left) with Bukiwe Matakane (CORC Savings Support) and Thozama Nomga (Western Cape FEDUP Coordinator)

Rose Molokoane (left) with Bukiwe Matakane (CORC Savings Support) and Thozama Nomga (Western Cape FEDUP Coordinator)

Govan Mbeki Awards

The annual award ceremony (established in 2006) aims “to promote and inculcate a culture of excellence within the human settlement sector in the delivery of quality human settlements and dignity to South Africans” (Reference). It acknowledges excellent achievements on a Provincial and National level in order to showcase the department’s work at both tiers and to promote best practice. (Read more here.)

FEDUPs partnership with Human Settlements

This is FEDUP’s fourth consecutive Govan Mbeki Award since 2012 and its first national award for ePHP, following provincial Govan Mbeki awards for housing projects in the North West (2012 & 2013), Kwa-Zulu Natal (2012), Gauteng (2013), and Patrick Magebhula Hunsley’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2014). The string of awards is testament to the partnership FEDUP has been building with various tiers of Human Settlements since democratic transition. Particular milestones in FEDUP’s advocacy with government are marked by government’s adoption of the People’s Housing Process (later ePHP) as a policy approach in 1998 and the Department’s long-term subsidy pledge to FEDUP in 2006. FEDUP, uTshani Fund and then national minister of housing, Lindiwe Sisulu, signed the pledge for 1000 housing subsidies per province in South Africa.

Mafikeng 200 Govan Mbeki Award

Mafikeng 200 Govan Mbeki Award

FEDUP’s partnership has thus been key in instituting an alternative approach to housing provision: the ePHP is community-centred and community–driven, activating communities as central role players. It outperforms developer-built subsidised housing in size, cost and quality, generates employment and construction skills and elevates the voice of the urban poor. Read more here. The remainder of this blog will detail FEDUP’s Mafikeng 200 housing project and explore what a continuing future partnership with the Department could like.

Mafikeng 200 project in North West

The Mafikeng housing project is a result of FEDUP’s 2006 pledge agreement with the national department. Within the pledge, the North West provincial department had allocated 1000 housing subsidies to FEDUP of which the movement decided to use 200 in various settlements in Mafikeng. FEDUP entered negotiations with the provincial government, preparing a contract, business plans and geo-technical investigation. At first, the geo-technical report deemed the ground in one of the Mafikeng settlements as too dolomitic for house construction. After FEDUP members engaged in further negotiations construction was approved. Molokoane recounts,

“Although we had challenges with the Department, our partnership is strong, especially with the regional manager who helped us bridge challenges, guiding us and giving us relevant people to correct our mistakes. We are not saying that we are perfect in building houses. But the good thing is that it empowers our communities, gives confidence and grows trust between communities and government”

Mafikeng Network Meeting in March 2015

Mafikeng Network Meeting in March 2015

At the core of the project and the strong partnership with the provincial department are daily savings – a tool that brings communities together, enabling individuals to identify and share challenges as well as find solutions. This was particularly the case in the North West where FEDUP members used their community savings (housed in FEDUP’s Urban Poor Fund), to attract more members, to leverage government support and create a sense of ownership.

“When we talk of a community owning a project we are referring to Mafikeng. Mafikeng members have now formed seven savings groups, and spend their own savings on monthly gatherings: hiring transport, equipment and cooking food.”

(Rose Molokoane, national FEDUP coordinator)

Savings report back to more than 150 savers gathered in Mafikeng.

Savings report back to more than 150 savers gathered in Mafikeng.

Using their own savings, Mafikeng group members prepare a meal for all members at the Network meeting

Using their own savings, Mafikeng group members prepare a meal for all members at the Network meeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Partnership on Upgrading

For Molokoane, the Mafikeng 200 project won the Govan Mbeki Award due the partnerships FEDUP had established with Mafikeng Municipality, the North West and National Department of Human Settlements.

“The partnership between these four stakeholders illustrates that working together, we can do better. The Department realised Mafikeng is a good example of PHP and ePHP because people are doing it for themselves. National government supports this because with some there is still a dependency syndrome that obliges government to provide. Through FEDUP we try and change this mind set: government should do it with us, not for us.”

In looking ahead, Molokoane speaks about the significant alliance between FEDUP and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) as well as the necessity for all tiers of government to recognise informal settlement upgrading in its own right and as clearly distinct from housing projects.

“People have the right to basic services over and above getting a house. Government needs to recognise the need for security of tenure and basic services for communities in informal settlements. If they give us [the SA SDI Alliance] the space to do this [informal settlement upgrading], people can change their conditions and the face of their communities. We have a long way to go with government, so we need to join hands as poor people. Our vision is basic services, security of tenure, providing an opportunity to build, then people should organise themselves to build their own houses.”

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Unemployed but Making Money: Income Generation in Port Elizabeth

By News No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Bulelwa Msila & her mother sell vegetables in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth

Bulelwa Msila & her mother sell vegetables in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth

As Bulelwa Msila arranges vegetables on a small vending stand on New Brighton’s busy Ferguson Road, a chilly gust of wind ushers passers-by into nearby homes. Due to Port Elizabeth’s winter weather, her mother is not braaiing (grilling) fish that day:

“Actually my mom sells fish but today it’s too cold. This is just a small business that I started with my mom, just to survive. I buy the vegetables from the fresh produce market. There is a lot of junk food that people eat, so we decided to sell vegetables because they are affordable and healthy. People buy from us because we are cheaper than supermarkets. Many come at the end of the month [after pay-day]. I also have another job but this one helps us to earn more. We use the money for our day-to-day expenses like electricity and school fees for my daughter.”

(Bulelwa Msila, Federation Income Generation Program)

Linda Mpako, who oversees FEDUPs income generation program (FIGP) in Port Elizabeth, explains that the program provides tangible access to financial assistance through small-scale loans. In particular it supports people who are not formally employed nor earn a regular income.

FEDUP’s Income Generation Program in Port Elizabeth

FEDUP has registered the FIGP as a micro-finance institution that draws its loans from FEDUPs National Urban Poor Fund (UPF). The UPF is built up through the payment of a once-off membership fee of R750 that is asked of each new FEDUP savings group member. In order to access loans in consecutive tranches, an individual needs to become part of a loan group (of 5 members), be an active saver and member of a savings group. Each province is guided by a FEDUP appointed loan facilitator like Linda, who provides support around loan group formation, loan disbursements, repayment cycles and other needs.  Read more background here.

Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator Eastern Cape

Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape, the FIGP has mostly attracted people who are not yet members of FEDUP-based savings schemes.

“People are interested to find out about us because most people already have businesses but they don’t have finances to sustain them. The FIGP interest is very low – we are the best on the ground. We don’t just issue money to anyone. People need to become part of a savings scheme. The repayment is manageable when over four months you are paying back R 276,67 per month”

(Linda Mpako, Eastern Cape, Loan Facilitator)

Motherwell: Income and Strong Savings go hand in hand

Further outside Port Elizabeth, Vivian Gulwa welcomes Linda into her home in Motherwell.  She is on her third loan cycle, making a success of her beading business.

“I usually buy coffee mugs [ traditional metal mugs] in a pack of 6, decorate them with beads and sell them for R150. You will find that most people love to put them into their display units. Many of us make necklaces and traditional artwork so I had to shift and make something different. As long as you start with a small thing and have the spirit to grow, you can think of anything. I thank God for what I learnt from FEDUP: in savings groups we buy groceries in bulk. We will never go hungry in this programme, we are building each other and encouraging each other”.

(Vivian Gulwa, FEDUP member in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth)

FEDUP members showcasing the work they do under FIGP.

Vivian Gulwa (far right) showcases her beading work financed through the FIGP together with members of her savings group.

Nomsa Dyalom and Busisiwe Tekane are very recent FEDUP members.  Both are seamstresses using FIGP to become more independent in running their business:

“We are a group of 5 women in Motherwell community who make beadwork and sew clothes. We have been working in this field for 5-6 years but only came together as a loan group recently when we heard about FIGP. We are not yet members of FEDUP but we are in the pipeline. The loan group will assist us in getting additional money to make our business more successful – especially since some of us are pensioners. The loan will help us spend our money independently – we will no longer quarrel with our husbands to convince them that we want to use some of the pension money for our business.”

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Nomsa Dyalom and Busisiwe Tekane

Building business strategy to build long term livelihood

In terms of business strategy Linda advises that new loan groups should use the example of people from outside South Africa. Through working together, it becomes possible to buy products and stock the spaza shop [corner shop] more cheaply. Unsurprisingly, one of the main challenges is competition: if potatoes are in season, you will find people selling potatoes in the same street – or sweets and fat cakes. Linda expresses the necessity for training so that people start checking with their community what people need. Overall, she shares:

“In my experience the FIGP is delivering what people need. It helps with unemployment and growing the FEDUP membership. We are seeing how families that have never worked can make money. Because of savings and small business, FIGP is like a survival skill. It shows when poor people use their own skills they can make money without being employed.”

(Linda Mpako, FIGP Loan Facilitator, Port Elizabeth)

Mama Nobom's small business

Mama Nobom’s small business

Mama Nobom sells handmade crafts

Mama Nobom sells handmade crafts

SA Alliance in Botswana: Building a strong urban poor Federation

By CORC, FEDUP, SDI No Comments

By Kwanele Sibanda (on behalf of CORC)

For the Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network, horizontal exchanges between savings groups and communities present an opportunity for bottom-up learning and mutual support. While each SDI affiliate shares the same tools and practices for community organisation and people-centred development, the use of these tools is shaped by local socio-economic and political contexts. Exchanges, therefore, also explore how new-found insights can be adapted to realities “back home”.

As an SDI learning centre, the SA SDI Alliance and FEDUP in particular have supported the growth of the Botswana SDI Alliance, the Botswana Homeless and Poor People’s Federation and support NGO. This blog reflects the workings of an international exchange, strategies for partnership building, and the necessities of rooting the strength of a Federation in daily saving, strong trust and cohesiveness on the ground.

Gointse (Trust for Community Initiatives) explains partnership with Stanbic

Gointse (Trust for Community Initiatives) explains partnership with Stanbic

Background of the Exchange

The SDI exchange to Botswana by the South African delegates was originally aimed at supporting the federation of Botswana in making a presentation to the new Minister of Local Government and Rural Affairs. In spite of efforts made by the Minister to meet the federation, the set meeting coincided with an emergency that he described as critical and could not be postponed.

From the previous visit of the South African delegates dated 16 – 19 October 2014, the Botswana federation has shown growth and determination to work with resources at their disposal. The federation of Francistown has been very influential in the growth of the federation, nationally. The Francistown Federation started off by influencing their local City Council especially the Town Clerk who in turn is now taking a lead in introducing the federation to officials in other cities as well as different government departments. The attempt to meet the Minister was through the efforts of the Francistown Town Clerk and the local supporting NGO (Trust for Community Initiatives).

As the meeting with the Minister was postponed at the 11th hour, the federation members from Francistown and the SA SDI Alliance used the opportunity to visit a fairly new local saving scheme (Boiteko Saving Scheme).

BOITEKO SAVING SCHEME MEETING.

Boiteko saving scheme meeting took place in Gaborone . A message of appreciation was given to the saving scheme members for attending the meeting even though it was scheduled within a short period of time. Amongst the issues discussed, the following was the most pressing for the saving scheme in Botswana as a whole.

  • Botswana has a law that disregards the nature/circumstances under which a group is established and wishes to have financial transactions that it be registered as a company. This act poses a challenge to the federation because of tax related burdens, registration process and other financial burdens that may be required by the law.
  • The groups have since resorted to opening bank accounts using one member of the group under conditions that include a letter to the bank stipulating that he is termed account holder and merely represents the group and can only undertake financial transactions authorised by two named signatories of the group’s choice. Boiteko Saving Scheme is no exception to the challenge.
Group photo after meeting with Boiteko Saving Scheme members

Group photo after meeting with Boiteko Saving Scheme members

  • The saving scheme was established in February 2015 with 27 members at its highest. Without seeking information internally, new members went to various government departments to find out if the poor people’s movement was registered. Upon realization of the other, word spread, dispute ensued, and sixteen members shunned the group leaving unity of the remaining on the canvas. The group currently stands at 11 members  and has a total of  P2 000 in savings up to date.
  •  In July 2015 the federation allegedly made a presentation at a Public Service Event where different Ministers were present. The presentation was broadcast on national television (BTV) and was seen by members that had forsaken the group. It is believed that the publication of the presentation somehow proved the authenticity of the organization as opposed to unfounded, simmering rumors.
  • The groups are being supported by the local NGO in opening bank accounts. The members of the new group expressed their need for support as they are not yet well versed of the other components in the alliance other than savings.
  • Savings Report
Total Number of saving schemes 55
Women 1 191
Men 122
Total Savings P276, 136.23
Total UPF P31, 473.94
Funds used to start income generating projects P260, 926.66
      Inputs made by the SA SDI alliance and Francistown delegates
  • Within groups, it is always ideal to have manageable numbers; however it is wise to be aware that numbers matter in influencing policies such as that currently affecting them on opening of bank accounts.
  • In making presentations, follow all levels of influential structures starting with the local chiefs so that your process is well understood and no one feels undermined.
  • Make daily collections a norm so as to bond as savings members and generally improve your savings.
  • Use the small projects  you are already doing to demonstrate to  government and other institutions your interest and how you wish to scale it up.Make use of  government resources like the ‘Poverty eradication programme’.
  • Start programmes for supporting other savings schemes because you tend to learn more when you share more.
  •  Choose honest people  to handle your finances to avoid jeopardizing the organisations name
  • Avoid making long meetings that will discourage attendance.
  • Members need to understand the power of working collectively.
  • Save with a goal and make good use of the savings . It is normally pointless to be endowed with savings that remain untapped when challenges prevail or opportunities present themselves.
Far Right - Sarah Mulaudzi (FEDUP) sharing her savings experience

Far Right – Sarah Mulaudzi (FEDUP) sharing her savings experience

WAY FORWARD

  • The federation of Botswana has to draft a programme were it will be supported in areas that include mobilization, savings recording system and explaining the different components in the alliance.
  • Once the meeting is confirmed with the Minister, leaders should prepare themselves for a presentation and should include in the agenda the policy requiring them to register in order to open bank accounts.
  • Each region has to start writing stories about the different projects and activities that they are doing.

Reflections on the Southern African Hub Meeting: Blantyre, Malawi

By SDI No Comments

***Cross-posted from SDI Blog***

By: Mariana Gallo, Knowledge Management Officer CCODE; Nico Keijzer, LME Officer Southern Africa SDI; & Noah Schermbrucker, Projects Officer SDI 

The recent regional hub meeting for Southern Africa took place in Blantyre, Malawi, from 28-31st March 2015. It was the first time that Blanytre or Malawi have hosted a regional hub meeting and provided an opportunity for the Malawian alliance to showcase their work. Participants from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe attended the meeting. Botswana was invited but not able to attend.

Country Reports and Field Visits

The day commenced with each country reporting on their key indicators using the new Learning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (LME) reporting format. All countries concurred that this format assisted them in measuring progress, setting realistic targets, identifying challenges, and more targeted learning to overcome them. For the first time the hub was able to produce accurate totals for Southern Africa – as illustrated in the below table.

Southern African Hub Totals
Baseline Target Achieved Total
Members  161 961,00  8 765,00  7 084,00  169 045,00
Savings Groups 2490 300 217 2707
Daily Savings  4 354 901,00  829 755,00  287 494,00  4 642 395,00
UPF Savings  1 960 417,00  210 099,00  127 794,00  2 088 211,00
         
Settlement Profiles 1553 445 316 1869
City-wide profiles 123 32 3 126
Enumerations 294 50 47 341
Maps – GIS 109 306 207 316
Maps – Hand drawn 15 24 10 25

A variety of field visits also took place. Those who visited Nancholi settlement learnt about the slum upgrading activities that were being undertaken by the federation. Work included the construction of bridges, the development of an agricultural market, the renovation of a local clinic, and the construction of additional blocks for the local secondary school. Other delegates visited a variety of groups who were involved in income generation projects. One group called “Waste for Wealth” produces and sells compost. Another group makes sausages that they package and sell, while a third group makes and sells tie-dye clothes.

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.

The group producing compost manure in Chilomani, explaining their experience with the enterprise.

City Council and Discussions on Country Projects

On the third day, hub delegates visited the Blantyre City Council for a meeting with the Mayor, the Director of Planning and Development for Blantyre, and other officials. While the meeting illustrated the successful partnership between the Malawian Alliance and the Blantyre City Council (BCC) it became clear, through the lively discussions that took place, that these types of partnerships need to be underpinned by material commitments from government (e.g. land, budgetary allocations for slum upgrading). The international delegation pushed the BCC around its previous commitments to establish a citywide slum-upgrading fund. The Malawian federation needs to follow up on the space opened by this discussion.

The meeting attracted media attention, and was reported on the front page of one of the main newspapers on the following day.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.

Hub participants attending a meeting with the Blantyre City Council.

The afternoon’s sessions provided an opportunity for delegates to reflect more deeply on their LME process. Not only in terms of challenges identified but feasible actions to address these issues. Below is an example of this work that the hub collectively committed to implementing over the next period. Outcomes will be reported at the next hub meeting.

Challenges:

1) Unrealistic targets,

2) Understanding of enumerations process or profiling is difficult,

3) Not having a system of reporting,

4) Politics delays the process,

5) Working with other stakeholders is always difficult and can delay the whole process,

6) Changing the mindset of people who expect a lot of money as some organisation does,

7) Slow implementation of projects,

8) Not practicing daily savings.

Possible Solutions:

1)     Setting of realistic targets within a specific period of time,

2)     Drawing of process maps – steps involved in saving, profiling, enumeration etc.,

3)     Mobilizing communities on why they are doing the profiling, enumeration etc.,

4)     Having standard reporting templates/systems,

5)     Signing of MOU’s (exchange visits among municipal/local officials),

6)     Joint working groups that involves stakeholders,

7)     Communities must take ownership and drive the change in the community,

8)     Communities should have one voice in getting resources from local authorities,

9)     Going back to the roots of daily savings.  Take ownership of savings and how the money is managed to build confidence.

Data, Reflections on Donor Funding, Exchanges, and Closing

The final day commenced with a presentation on the data platform from the SDI Secretariat. Federations were able to access, discuss and interact with the online platform that stores their profiling information. This is part of a process to deepen federation ownership of the information collected.

An interesting and important discussion, which is central to the work of all federations and affiliates, then took place.  The crux if this discussion is that while it is recognised that donor funding is needed for activities, the agenda and priorities of donors can sometimes be in conflict with the federation’s core vision (e.g. building unaffordable housing on the periphery of the city).  Broken into country groups delegates discussed criteria for accepting donor funding. Flexibility, equal partnerships, common vision and inclusion of the poorest were amongst the common points of consideration.

The meeting closed with a collective reflection session that gave delegates an opportunity to assess the content and structure of the hub meeting.  More substantive details can be found in the hub report. The next hub meeting was set for September in Zimbabwe.

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing

The Malawi Alliance prepares their data for sharing

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.

Malawi Federation members work with the online data platform.

Spotlight on Mpumalanga: “Through FEDUP we support each other”

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund One Comment

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

“At Ellerines in Standerton, we need to collect Dolly, then its not far: continue straight over the crossing and turn left to get to Extension 6. We want to share what we are doing in our savings scheme. Some of us have houses, and some of us are starting small businesses”

(Togo Simelane, FEDUP member, Mpumalanga)

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Emelina Hlabati and Beauty Nkosi, long standing members of FEDUP’s Masakane savings scheme in Standerton

As Mama Dolly Moleme and Togo Simelane arrive at their home in Extension 6 in Standerton, they lead the way to Gogo Emelina Hlabati’s home. Together with Beauty Nkosi, the three ladies make up the steering committee of FEDUP’s PHP housing projects in Standerton. Apart from acting as FEDUP’s regional financial signatories, the group is involved in negotiating with the municipality and provincial government for direct access to housing subsidies through the People’s Housing Process (PHP). Read more about FEDUP’s engagement with PHP here.

Togo Simelane (front), Beauty Nkosi (left), Emelina Hlabati (right), Dolly Moleme (back)

Togo Simelane (front), Beauty Nkosi (left), Emelina Hlabati (right), Dolly Moleme (back)

Building first houses in Extension 6

FEDUP has been active in Extension 6 since 2001, with five savings schemes (Masakane, Lethukhanya, Vukuzenzele, Masihambisane and one income generation / loan group).

Dolly explains,

“We started building all the FEDUP houses in Extension 6 in 2005. uTshani Fund supported us with pre-financing the houses. We managed the construction of the houses through our Community Construction Management Teams (CCMTs). Houses should take one week to build but we waited for one month for the materials to deliver. The role of the government is to provide an inspector to check that the houses we build meet the appropriate standards.”

Beauty Nkosi infront of her Federation house

Beauty Nkosi infront of her Federation house

FEDUP self-financed its first three houses as “show houses” to negotiate for direct access to subsidy funds in 2001 and 2002. This enabled members to build houses with bigger dimensions than RDP houses. For the group of ladies it was clear,

“We’re not looking for municipality houses – we want Federation houses because they are much bigger and more beautiful”

Between 2005 and 2006 FEDUP has built 36 houses. Other members in the community are approved to receive a subsidy but Dolly explains that there has been little movement from the municipality. The group therefore contacts the municipality on a weekly basis to find out about proposed plans for the next subsidy houses. The likelihood of receiving subsidies in the near future, however, is small. This reflects the inability of South Africa’s provincial Departments of Human Settlements to adequately meet the country’s housing backlog. The backlog in Mpumalanga alone is close to 200 000.

IMG_3053

Beauty Nkosi with human settlements accredited photograph with Emelina Hlabati and Nomvula Mahlangu

FEDUP houses in Extension 6

FEDUP houses

 

Building Savings, Building Support

Through daily savings, however, FEDUP, has nurtured strong savings schemes and spaces in which members can support each other, regardless of the extent of municipal commitment and support.

Dolly explains,

“The Federation helped Gogo Emelina to such an extent that when she was born she was living in a shack. She started daily savings and luckily with the support of the Federation she was able to bury her husband in a dignified manner. When her husband passed away, the house was completed. Today she has a house and a chicken business. Otherwise she would be out in the open”

Dolly, Emelina and Beauty speak about their savings scheme:

“We are all part of Masakane savings scheme. Now we are about 30 members. Many of us received houses. Together we have a chicken project. We buy small chickens, we grow them and then we sell them when they have grown big. When we heard about the FEDUP loan group we decided to sell chickens because many people like to eat chickens.”

Read about FEDUP’s Income Generation Programme here.

Dolly Moleme and Emelina Hlabatis Chicken business

Dolly Moleme and Emelina Hlabatis Chicken business

Masakane savings scheme is also involved in other forms of saving such as saving towards groceries for the year-end. At the end of the year 60 members use the savings to buy a big load of groceries and one sheep each.

“Many people who live here live in shacks often don’t want to save. But when they see us building our houses they come running to us and ask how they can do this too. I like the Federation a lot! Even though I already have a house I would never dream of leaving the Federation. Many people are struggling. Through FEDUP we support each other even if the municipality doesn’t seem to want to help us”

(Dolly Moleme, FEDUP member, Standerton)

Togo Simelane in FEDUP office in Extension 6

Togo Simelane in FEDUP office in Extension 6

Stories from FEDUP’s Income Generation Programme (FIGP)

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

IMG_3168

Elisa Ramboda

Venda Beadwork in Limpopo

My name is Elisa Ramboda. I’ve lived here in Ramahantsha* my whole life, more than 70 years. I’m the first member of Pfano, my savings scheme, and I was the first to join when the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) was launched in Limpopo because I heard about savings. When the FEDUP income generation project started I took my first loan of R 1000 – to buy beads in town and sell Venda beadwork here at my house and at paying points where people get their grants. Even when there is a wedding, people come and place orders with me to make them traditional decorations.

I sell headbands for R150, armbands for R90, belts are R150 and necklaces cost R40. I make good profits and I have already taken and repaid three loans! This helps me to pay my grandchildren’s school fees. I also support my daughter-in-law and my son.”

This blog traces the stories of FEDUP members in four South African regions who use the Federation Income Generation Programme (FIGP) to start businesses, support family members, and secure their livelihoods.

(*near Makhado / Louis Trichardt in Limpopo)

FEDUP is built on daily savings

As a network of saving schemes, FEDUP’s core practice centres on daily savings collections that establish a space for individuals to share daily struggles and for savings group to identify solutions. Most often members’ needs pertain to accessing well-located land, security of tenure, improved shelter, housing and basic services. Through daily collections and other community organisation tools FEDUP has built partnerships with government on all tiers, negotiating access to many of these needs.

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FIGP draws on FEDUPS’s Urban Poor Fund

Amidst successful negotiations, the lack of income generation continued to cause instability and hardship. FEDUP therefore launched the FIGP in 2014 to assist members in starting small businesses, enabling the movement to generate its own income through reinforcing the significance of daily savings itself. FEDUP (via uTshani Fund) registered with the relevant financial bodies and started up a legal and formalised microfinance institution through which members can access group loans from their own Urban Poor Fund instead of external financial institutions.

Taking loans to start a business

The criteria for accessing a FIGP loan are:

  • Formal FEDUP membership (complete once-off UPF payment of R750)
  • Active member of a FEDUP savings scheme
  • Experience as small business entrepreneur for at least 6 months
  • Be part of a group of 5 to access a loan

These criteria ensure that members continue saving and supporting one another in the development of their respective businesses because individuals can only receive loans when they are in a group of five. The whole group must also make repayments as one overall sum. Therefore individual success depends on group success. 

Sophie’s Tuckshop in Bethal, Mpumalanga

Sophie Mofokeng's tuckshop

Sophie Mofokeng’s tuckshop

As Sophie Mofokeng attends to a customer in her well-stocked tuck shop, in the front section of her house, she says that she has been a FEDUP member since 2013.

“I started my shop in 2009. But after a while I got stuck because I did not make enough profits because I did not increase my prices enough from the wholesaler prices. But now I am good at it. FEDUP has helped me a lot, especially through savings and the FIGP loan, which supports me with my shop. I have taken and repaid three loans so far: R500, R1600 and R1000. They have helped me because I don’t have to pay high interest. I have many customers especially on weekends and month end. I count my profits every day when I close and put them in my account.

Saving is good for me because I can’t always draw the money when I want it. It helps me to support my children after school, maybe through varsity (university). I want to grow the shop and buy a chips machine and a double fridge so I can stock more colddrinks.”

In Standerton (Mpumalanga), Dolly Moleme, Emelina Hlabati and Beauty Nkosi (both over 70), speak about the poultry project they started through FIGP.

“The Gogos and I are members of Masakane savings scheme. We used to be many members – now we are about 30 people. Many of us received houses but we wanted to do more to support ourselves. The Gogos and I started a chicken income generation project because many people like to eat chickens: we buy small chickens , grow them and then we sell them.”

(Dolly Moleme, FEDUP member, Mpumalanga).

Dolly has also used FIGP to make her own Achar (condiment) and sell at a public vending area in Standerton’s town centre. Other FEDUP members in Bethal have set up their FIGP businesses, selling uniforms, clothing and household items in public areas where people gather to collect their monthly grants.

FEDUP seamstresses in North West Province and Gauteng

In Legonyane (North West) and Orange Farm (Gauteng) FEDUP savings scheme members are making use of FIGP loans to expand their sewing businesses. Both members are experienced seamstresses and use the loans to buy material to make graduation gowns and shwe-shwe dresses.

In reflecting on the impact of the loan system within the FIGP, Rose Molokoane, FEDUP National Co-ordinator said,

“As FEDUP, we initially got together in saving schemes so we could save towards houses.  Some people began dropping out when they didn’t see houses. But our work is not about houses only – it’s about the future. We are building a future, not a house. We are building a home, not a house. In a home there are many needs. We are using this loan programme (based on our savings) to do something about them.”

Tinasonke Community: Our show houses help us negotiate with Gauteng Province

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Cynthia Ntombekhaya Yalezo and Philda Mmole * (on behalf of FEDUP)

This piece of land – where we now live – was not always called Tinasonke**. When we still stayed across the road – there in Tokoza township – as backyarders, it was called Caravan Park. There were only labour tenants living on this land because it was used to farm apple and apricot trees and mielies (maize).

**(Tinasonke township is located in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, near Alberton in Gauteng. It was formally established in 2009).

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Tinasonke community leaders, Philda Mmole and Cynthia Ntombekhaya Yalezo

Walking through Tinasonke

View of Tinasonke

From Tokoza to Tinasonke

When we lived in Tokoza, about 1500 of us backyarders came together in 1997 to form the Zenzeleni Housing Savings Scheme as part of what we now call the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP). We wanted to improve our conditions by living on our own land and in our own houses. This is when we identified Caravan Park and negotiated with the owner of the land, who sold it to uTshani Fund on behalf of FEDUP in 1998 for R1.2 million. As a savings scheme we contributed R 260 000 of the cost which we used as a deposit for the land.

Each member of our savings scheme had to contribute R600 to cover the cost of the deposit. Some of us were working, others not. But we tried to help people. We lent money to Mama Msani to buy and resell bananas to earn the R600. There was a split and not everyone contributed to the cost of the deposit but we all moved away from Tokoza in 2003.

Philda and Cynthia outside FEDUP office in Tinasonke

Philda and Cynthia outside FEDUP office in Tinasonke

The beginning: our plans for houses

At this time we submitted our housing subsidy applications to the provincial government. Once they were approved we planned the site layout with the support of consultants who drew the layout professionally and submitted it for approval. We are now about 1200 people in Tinasonke, living on 514 sites. When we drew the layout plan – the municipality asked us to name our land.

We chose “Tinasonke” which means “all together”. We want everyone in FEDUP to get access to land together.

Since we moved here our savings group separated. Some members wanted RDP houses while the rest of us wanted FEDUP houses (Through the People’s Housing Process FEDUP members can directly access housing subsidies and construct larger houses through Community Construction Management Teams. FEDUP houses are generally 50m2 or larger, depending on the extent of additional savings. RDP houses are 40m2 in size.)

RDP house (left) , FEDUP show house (right)

RDP house (left) , FEDUP show house (right)

Far left: Lucky Khwidzili (uTshani Fund), Elias Matodzi (Owner of show house) Far Right: Philda Mmole, Cynthia Yalezo, Emily Mfundisi Mofokeng (Tinasonke Steering Committee members)

Far left: Lucky Khwidzili (uTshani Fund), Elias Matodzi (Owner of show house)
Far Right: Philda Mmole, Cynthia Yalezo, Emily Mfundisi Mofokeng (Tinasonke Steering Committee members)

Plan of Action: Building our show houses

Some community members have RDP houses. As FEDUP members our subsidies have been approved but we haven’t received them yet. We don’t want to fold our arms and wait for government to deliver houses. We want to do something ourselves – because when you wait for government you can wait 100 years. We try practice freedom, democracy.

We decided to build two show houses in Tinasonke to show government that we can do it ourselves. We used our own savings money from our Urban Poor Fund to pre-finance the two houses. In Tinasonke we have three savings schemes that meet every Saturday. Two are made up of FEDUP members in Tinasonke, and one is a savings scheme of landless people.

For the show houses we selected FEDUP members according to their age and participation. One of the show houses belongs to Nthathe Elias Matodzi. He has been a member of FEDUP since we moved to Tinasonke. FEDUP is in his blood. We like FEDUP because being part of this organisation gives us knowledge.

We want to negotiate with our show houses. We want government to see that we are doing things for our selves. We want government to match us with money so it can meet us half way and give our subsidies to us. Even now the rest of the community want FEDUP houses because they have seen our show houses. We want provincial government to see that we can do it for ourselves.

* Compiled by Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC) 

Elias Matodzi's 'two' homes, (showhouse on right)

Elias Matodzi’s ‘two’ homes, (showhouse on right)

Elias in his soon-to-be-completed house.

Elias in his soon-to-be-completed house.

Roof tiles delivered to Elias' showhouse.

Roof tiles delivered to Elias’ showhouse.

Launch of Upgrading at Flamingo Crescent with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille

By CORC, FEDUP, iKhayalami, ISN, Press No Comments

Authored by CORC

“People said Flamingo Crescent [Upgrading] will never happen. But today is here and this is the proof that it has happened – one cannot do it alone we need to work as a collective!”

Melanie Manuel, Informal Settlement Network (ISN) Co-ordinator

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO's and City Officials

Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, with Flamingo Crescent Community Members, SA SDI Alliance, PFO’s and City Officials

Last week’s upgrading launch at Flamingo Crescent informal settlement celebrated the completion of re-blocking, installation of water, sanitation and electricity services for each of Flamingo’s 104 households, the unveiling of Flamingo’s first formal street names and opening of the settlement’s own crèche, Little Paradise. Moreover it marked a milestone in an ongoing upgrading process, showcasing what is possible when communities, intermediaries, governments and stakeholders form partnerships.

Delegates from community organisations and networks, the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, delegates from various government departments, ward and sub-council politicians, NGOs and support organisations gathered in the Lansdowne Civic Centre from 11:00 on Monday 10 February.

The re-blocking project is lauded as a successful demonstration of community-led, participatory planning, collaborative implementation and improvement of informal settlements. The uniqueness of the project was that despite the settlement’s density no one was displaced and grossly inconvenienced during the implementation of upgrading 104 structures.

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

ISN & FEDUP welcome the Mayor to the launch at Lansdowne Civic Centre

First engagements around Flamingo Crescent 

First engagements began in 2012 after the City of Cape Town signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SA SDI Alliance around joint community-led upgrading of 22 informal settlements, of which Flamingo Crescent is the third, having built on the experiences of Mtshini Wam and Kuku Town. It differs from the previous two in the severity of its socio-economic challenges – high levels of crime, unemployment, violence and poverty. Given these circumstances the Alliance’s Informal Settlement Network (ISN) facilitated implementation and engagement between the City and the community.

Melanie Manuel (Flamingo Crescent ISN facilitator) shared,

“When we started the partnership with the City of Cape Town in 2011 in Vygieskraal it was a day of celebration and no one knew the hardships that would lie ahead. As time went on we realised we fundamentally believe in community participation, a bottom up approach because we know communities understand their settlements best.”

Read more background here.

Flamingo Before Upgrading

Flamingo Before Upgrading

The Launch: Messages on Upgrading and Inclusion in Services

At the launch, the first speaker, Councillor Anthea Green shared,

“Since 2012 I have said that we need to upgrade Flamingo Crescent, despite resistance from the rate payers and residents’ groups. We were committed to work with the community, and now this is a transformed settlement”.

Informal settlements not only face substandard basic services like water, sanitation and electricity but are also cut off from functions of city administration such as receiving a residential address. The re-blocking project allowed the City and the Post Office to give Flamingo Crescent street names and addresses, after the community made this requirement upfront in their development plan.

Gerald Blankenberg, regional director of the Post Office, said that the Post Office Act and other regulations require the post office to expand addresses to underserviced communities.

“Informal communities are often times socially and economically disconnected from basic administrative functions, and therefore a residential address will give the Post Office an opportunity to serve the community with dignity”, he said.

In the keynote address, Mayor Patricia de Lille emphasised the significant role of Flamingo community’s steering committee, the Alliance’s ISN and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) in the success of the project. She, however, expressed concern about the slow pace of project implementation, emphasizing the need to boost municipal and community capacity to ensure the roll out of more projects in the City’s 200 informal settlements.

“The aim of re-blocking is the improvement of informal settlements while people wait for a housing opportunity”, she observed.

In closing of the ceremony, the Mayor handed over certificates of tenure to community members, ensuring formal recognition of residence and tenure security.

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

Mayor, Patricia de Lille with Flamingo Community Leader, Maria Matthews

The Impact of Upgrading : Before and After

Before re-blocking, the community of 405 residents had access to only 14 chemical toilets (of which 7 were serviced) and 2 water taps. There was no electricity so that contained fires in tin drums dotted the settlement’s dusty pathways. The community was especially concerned about the safety of its children playing in the busy street.

Re-blocking restructured space in the settlement, opening courtyard areas and clearly designated access roads, enabling the City of Cape Town to install individual water, sanitation and electricity services per household. What sets Flamingo apart from previous projects are its paved pathways, with official road names as well as the construction of a crèche.

The community contributed 20% to the cost of its structures through community-based daily savings. During the implementation phase, 20 jobs were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Before upgrading

Before upgrading

After upgrading

After upgrading

Into the Future: Community voices on Partnership and City Fund

“Since 2010 we have been thinking about improvements in our settlement. This is when we got in touch with ISN, who introduced us to CORC, and we then made a partnership with the City [of Cape Town] We explained what we wanted from the city – our own taps, toilets and electricity. But we needed to come together and draft our own plans”.

(Maria Matthews, Flamingo Community Leader)

Through the SA SDI Alliance the community additionally partnered with several organisations. iKhayalami supported the community, ISN/FEDUP and CORC around training community members and top structure construction. The community established the re-blocked layout and community-based maps in partnership with students from Cape Peninsula University of Technology and support staff from CORC. With the support of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, USA) the community drew up plans for the crèche. Habitat for Humanity South Africa contributed to construction by supplying the roof sheets and windows. The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) donated funds to build the crèche. CECD will also support around the training and registration of the crèche.

From Melanie’s speech it was clear,

“This project is successful because of the methodologies we use. We allow communities to do their own designs. The community also made a [financial] contribution [in a settlement] where 95% of community members were unemployed. How do we change the mind-sets of people who are still waiting for adequate housing? Let’s change the way we are living now while we are waiting for housing to come.”

(Melanie Manuel, ISN Facilitator)

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

Melanie Manuel, ISN Co-ordinator in Flamingo

As important as settlement improvement is in itself, the methodology is just as significant. Moreover, Flamingo Crescent serves as a precedent for informal settlement upgrading on a larger scale. The day ended with the community leading the Mayor through their settlement, unveiling Flamingo’s new street names and officially opening the Little Paradise crèche together. It is Melanie Manuel’s closing words that speak of the future:

 “We need to look at a holistic plan for the metro. Let’s look at how we can reach basic services much quicker and how we can scale up. The Alliance projects do not only focus on reblocking but on basic services in every form. The Alliance has designed a City Fund with which communities can directly access money for upgrading in Cape Town. In Flamingo the Aliance’s Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF) helped us match the 20% that each community member contributed to their structure. This kind of facility on a city-level will go a long way – we challenge the City to continue partnering with us and match our contributions in the City Fund!”

 

 

Savings Symposium: Strong Savings Make Us Alive

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

From 23-29 November 2014 the SA SDI Alliance and SDI affiliates from Malawi, Zambia & Zimbabwe gathered for a weeklong savings symposium in Cape Town to strengthen the Alliance’s savings practices. The group of 80 community and youth leaders discussed the power of savings for organising communities, leveraging municipal resources and opening a space to address individual, group and community needs.

Opening Greetings of Symposium

Opening Greetings of Symposium

Na-eema Swartz, Symposium Co-organiser, counts savings collection taken during first day.

Na-eema Swartz, Symposium Co-organiser, counts savings collection taken during first day.

Symposium overview: field visits and discussions

Discussions assessed the Alliance’s current savings patterns, locally and nationally. They clarified what roles and responsibilities exist within savings groups, identified existing challenges and developed solutions for these. Visiting affiliates shared their savings practices, systems and strategies, supporting the SA alliance through the exchange of alternatives ideas and opportunities.

Throughout the week the group based these discussions on field visits to savings groups and upgraded informal settlement communities like Flamingo Crescent, who contributed 20% of the cost of each upgraded structure. These visits enabled a hands-on space for the symposium members to accompany local treasurers and collectors and learn how to complete saving record forms during door-to-door savings collections in Khayelitsha, Philippi and Samora. During other visits symposium members supported network meetings in Samora and Mfuleni in Cape Town, where four or five savings groups in a particular area regularly report back to each other on a network level.

Field visit in Flamingo Informal Settlement

Field visit in Flamingo Informal Settlement

Understanding savings in the SA Alliance

FEDUP national co-ordinators, Rose Molokoane and Marlene Don, opened the savings symposium by exploring the purpose for the gathering, revisiting the history of savings in the SA Alliance and its significance as a core methodology of the broader SDI network. Rose therefore reminded the gathering of the SA alliance’s history as rooted in its first exchange in the early 1990s with urban poor federations in India who were practicing daily savings.

Rose and Marlene revisited the main aims of FEDUP and ISN, namely

  • Encourage self reliance
  • Organising communities
  • Use savings and other methodologies as a tool to leverage external resources

These are underpinned by FEDUP and ISN’s 5 core principles:

  • Love
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Commitment

Examining Alliance savings and looking forward

The purpose of the symposium was therefore to retrospect and understand the foundation on which the Alliance has built its savings, examine current savings patterns and look forward in terms of how these can be strengthened and developed. Based on impressions from the field, symposium members split into six groups, discussing questions, documenting suggestions and opinions in order to reach tangible outcomes. The questions under discussion were:

  1. What is a saver?
  2. Who is a collector?
  3. Who is a treasurer?
  4. What kind of savings do we have?
  5. Which kind is best for our organisation?
  6. How do we collect savings?
  7. How often do we collect savings?
  8. How do we record?
  9. How do we do reconciliation & savings?
  10. How & when do we do audits of our savings?
  11. How did you become a collector / treasurer?
  12. How do we run savings meetings?
  13. How should we deal with inconsistencies?

Each group presented its responses to the larger gathering, thereby mapping out a foundation on which to continue building the SA Alliance’s savings. The responses and group discussions will be used to develop a guiding framework for savings patterns in the Alliance. Communities thereby use savings not only as a tool to meet identified needs but to enable constructive negotiation with governmental tiers for resources and participatory development.

As members of each province reflected on the experiences gained during the week, it became evident that it was indeed a rich time of learning, exchange and building strong savings patterns.

“I learnt how to record in savings books, and I learnt the strength of being part of a group like this. I realised we can do it together. You made me feel so welcome” (Wendy, FEDUP Youth, Free State)

“I learnt the purpose of savings and how to motivate my community to save when I return home” (Sifiso, KwaZulu-Natal)

“Our federation belongs to us and we are the ones who will make it alive through strong savings!” (Rose Molokoane, FEDUP National Co-ordinator)

Presenting Group responses

Presenting Group responses

A month with Father Jorge – His reflections on South Africa, Zambia & Namibia

By CORC, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of SA SDI Alliance)

Father Jorge is one of the longest-standing friends and a much-valued mentor not only of the SA SDI Alliance but also of the broader Shack/ Slum Dwellers International (SDI) family. He has been visiting South Africa for the last 25 years, joining us for his most recent visit from October to November 2014.

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From Argentina to Japan to the World

Born in Argentina in 1930 Father Jorge Anzorena, has been living in Tokyo, Japan for more than 50 years as a Jesuit priest, an architect and a professor, leading a remarkable life (read more here). His attentive ear for people, listening, understanding and documenting the organisation processes of poor communities throughout the world draws a common thread through his experiences.

As part of an initiative in 1976 by the Catholic church and Jesuit order to understand how poor people organised themselves around land and housing Father Jorge began travelling between numerous poor people’s movements and communities in Asia, ranging from Philippines to Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. About a decade later, Father Jorge visited South Africa and became part of the first dialogues between urban poor communities from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Father Jorge has visited South Africa regularly ever since.

Reflections on South Africa

This year Father Jorge spent time in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban– visiting many communities, attending meetings and gatherings such as the National Human Settlements Indaba and reflecting on changes, challenges and points of progress:

“Over the years that I have visited I have witnessed three upgrading projects, in Sheffield Road, Mtshini Wam and Flamingo Crescent. When we first started upgrading in Sheffield Road it took a long time, and few people were enthusiastic because they didn’t know what to expect. Now in Mtshini Wam, we are looking at the next phase after upgrading, which is densification together with a team of professionals that was interested in building on the wishes of the community in order to be as inclusive as possible. Very rarely do you find professional teams that are considerate of the community’s wishes and plans. In Flamingo Crescent you can see developments in the upgrading projects: it was completed after just 5 months of construction, where Mtshini Wam took one year. There is also a transformation in the community. People are really thinking about how they can develop themselves.”

“I have also seen a change in how the alliance relates to government (and vice versa) in two meetings I attended with officials of the City of Cape Town and the Department of Water and Sanitation where FEDUP/ISN, CORC and students were presenting alternative models to the Department. It seems that government is taking more notice of the alliance and considering its capacity to present the projects and plans of the community”

Father Jorge at National Human Settlements Indaba in Johannesburg

Father Jorge at National Human Settlements Indaba in Johannesburg

Reflections on Zambia

During October and November Father Jorge was warmly welcomed by the Zambian and Namibian Alliances. The Zambian federation shared its work on water kiosks that the community of Kalunduville settlement near Kafue had built to ensure their first ever access to water in the settlement.

“The water kiosks are important because they require community effort and connect people to each other. Sometimes with individual benefit projects a community can be separated but when everyone contributes (like digging the trenches) this can really change the mentality of a community and build solidarity which is very important for slum dwellers”

At a savings scheme meeting in George Compound in Lusaka, which gathered Federation leaders from all over Zambia, the Federation spoke about the projects it is undertaking through using community savings such as eco-san toilets, home-improvement loans, the building of resource centres and drainage systems.

“This Federation is unique because it doesn’t live on hand-outs – please, wherever you go, tell them that the Federation in Zambia is alive!”

(Cecelia, Zambian Federation, Ndola)

Visiting Kalunduville settlement near Kafue, Zambia

Visiting Kalunduville settlement near Kafue, Zambia

Water Kiosk in Kalunduville settlement, Kafue, Zambia

Water Kiosk in Kalunduville settlement, Kafue, Zambia

With the Zambian Federation in George Compound, Lusaka

With the Zambian Federation in George Compound, Lusaka

Reflections on Namibia

The Namibian Federation invited Father Jorge to Etuyeni savings group in Havana settlement just outside Windhoek and to a group meeting of various savings schemes’ bookkeepers in Gobabis. Etuyeni savings group shared its challenges around accessing municipal land and its plans to build houses through using savings to make its own bricks. In Gobabis the Federation’s bookkeepers shared insights on the strong savings and financial system it has established in managing its own funds.

“In Namibia I noticed the change of responsibility. It’s not the NGO that is responsible for the finances but it is the community. In many other places the NGO pushes the community to return the money – but when the community controls the money they take much more responsibility to use it. Often it is difficult for poor people to think long term because the focus is on surviving in the moment. But the change that comes with savings is that people can start thinking about the near future. ”

Meeting with Etuyeni Savings group

Meeting with Etuyeni Savings group

Etuyeni savings group makes bricks in Havana settlement, Windhoek

Etuyeni savings group makes bricks in Havana settlement, Windhoek

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Old friends reunite in Windhoek