Apr 21
Transforming Lives: Empowering Women Through Self-Help Groups

Transforming Lives: Empowering Women Through Self-Help Groups

Wow what a tumultuous time it has been for the kids, the ladies, the villages. Praise God I can report there have been no new abductions. If you are like me, that is the first thing I would want to know. The communities’ measures are working and children are being escorted to and from school and everyone is on the look-out. Already we are seeing the communities working together on a more formal level as well as informally. People are really putting past issues behind them and trying to protect all children and provide safety and security.

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes, I appreciate you!

Today I want to briefly share about the Self Help Group project we are running.

The Number of women involved in SHG 1,043. Imagine, over 1,000 ladies are working together in small groups, 70% of whom are now self-employed. Imagine, no longer begging for help from neighbours or family but supporting themselves and their families. They have been able to get away from the money lenders; no longer paying exorbitant interest for repayments of loans but 10% only which goes back into the kitty for future use. They now have a steady cash flow for their small businesses.

Also, these ladies are being taught financial and business management skills, it is awesome to watch the joy, when they meet together on a weekly basis and celebrate the returning of loans, the dispersal of new loans and the announcing of the totals. They dance, they sing, they ululate. Love it.

Now through the work of the SHG team, the number of children we support through this project alone is 2,874 and now, as I said we have started 10 new Cub/Scout groups with these kids, so the synergy is great because the parents are getting involved. We also have some ex scouts who have returned to the program as Rovers (the last part of the youth branch) to assist with the groups. I am not sure of the number of kids that have now started yet because it is all really new, but I will be able to report on that with time.

Currently we now have 59 SHG’s and together they have saved R1,103,202.00 which is approximately $58,370.00USD or $91,933.00AUD. That money gets cycled out in loans and repaid to the value of R5.3million. PHENOMINAL, I know you will agree, this is so exciting. Now we are starting to get men who want to being involved in the groups. Sadly, this never works out but we are thinking of starting a once off pilot for a group of men who are unemployed. We will go very slow and steady with that one.

Below is a story of the impact one lady’s life, Emma and her family. I hope you enjoy her story and truely realise the generational impact we are having through your support!

Thank you once again for all you do for the communities we serve; we really are changing lives for the better.



My name is Emma and currently I am living at Myakayaka with my husband and 3 children (2 boys and 1 girl). I am 33 years old. I am the second born child of Samuel and Maria. I wasn’t raised in a rich family; my father was unemployed, and my mother was working in the farms. It wasn’t easy for my mother to be the breadwinner for a family of 6. Sometimes we wouldn’t have proper school uniform especially in winter, we would go to bed on an empty stomach. It was hard for us growing up, we were not like other children, we didn’t have the luxury of new school uniforms or even Christmas clothes. Whatever clothes or shoes you had, you had to cherish and make sure that the clothes are well taken care off. Even with the challenges that we faced at home, my siblings and I persevered and completed Matric.

Due to the financial situation at home, I didn’t have the opportunity to further my studies, I had to stay at home and started job hunting. I wanted to help my mother with the household needs. During this time, that is when I met my husband. His name is Robert. I fell in love with and knew that he was the man I wanted to marry. I fell pregnant with our first born and after giving birth, he paid lobola (bride price) for me and we have been together ever since. Robert is a carpenter and started his own business, he is very good in his job, and I believe that one day he will be a famous carpenter.

When we got married, I was unemployed, and we were dependent on his business and the child support grant. Things were not easy for my family and I because R1,500-00 was not enough to sustain a family of 5 for the whole month, I had to buy groceries, toiletries, nappies because I have a 1 year 6 months old baby, plus electricity, and bread every single day. If my husband wasn’t called for a job we would struggle to cope for the rest of the month, I would sometimes go to the loan sharks or my neighbours to loan money so my children can have a decent meal to eat. I would repay the loan with the Child Support Grant money; I would say that I was in a debt cycle.

I joined A hi ti pfuxeni SHG in June 2022, the group was formed in 2021 and initially I didn’t want to be a member of this “R10.00” stokvel because it seemed like it was a waste of time. I was more focused on getting a job which will give me a salary every month. It all changed during one of our SHG meetings, the women in the group were talking about the importance of starting your own business. I always had an idea that I wouldn’t start my own business per say but I would support my husband and help him grow his business. I loaned money from SHG, and we bought a grinder and a chisel. After buying the machines, his business grew, we had more income and I also managed to pay back the initial loan. I took a second loan because we wanted to add more machinery and this time around things didn’t go according to plan. During one of his jobs, my husband fell, and a nail got stuck in his hand. He was unable to work for 6 months. This was the toughest 6 months of our lives. We didn’t have an income because business had to come to a stop, and I was slowly going back to the debt cycle.

During this challenging time, I saw the importance of being independent and starting my own business. I kept on thinking that what if my husband had died, what was going to happen to my children and I. I then decided to start my own business. I have mango trees in my yard and my mangoes are sweet and juicy, I started selling them and made profit. I then bought bananas and peanuts and my clientele grew. My business is slowly growing, and the profit is helping us a lot.

My husband is healed and has started working again, I will continue supporting him and his business, but I will also continue with my small business and growing it. I want to see myself being a successful business woman in Myakayala. I don’t want my children to end up like me, I want them to have a bright future, have enough money to take them to tertiary education. “My story doesn’t end, for as long as I am still alive I will keep on writing my story and work very hard.”