It is estimated than one in every two black adult South Africans belongs to at least one of the existing plus 800,000 stokvels, a traditional savings scheme in which members contribute a fixed amount of money to a common pool, be it weekly, fortnightly or monthly. According to a recent study, there are over 11 million stokvel members in South Africa, with a combined gross domestic value to the tune of R44 billion.
Although the concept of stokvels was initiated as a means of survival in hard times, specially among disadvantaged black communities, it has evolved beyond just the realm of providing support and comfort for bereaved families. Stokvels are no longer the preserve of people desperately waiting for donations for burials and groceries, but a medium for like-minded people to get together and invest money with the aim of creating wealth and security for its members, in a socially conducive environment - not to mention endless investment opportunities that can see these clubs even investing in stock markets.
It is for this reason that StokvelEx, an exciting new exhibition which seeks to foster and formalise relationships between various stokvel clubs and service providers, was formed. Intended to provide exhibitors, stokvel institutions and visitors with exciting new opportunities to interact with one another, the inaugural StokvelEx will open its doors from July 4-6 at the Tshwane Events Centre.
Organised as a flagship event for Savings Month 2014, the three-day exhibition is described as "the annual meeting point for stokvel organisations, financial service cooperatives, banking institutions, funeral undertakers and other related companies to drive growth, investment and development within the South African stokvel landscape."
Divided into two sections - the trade and public halls - the expo will provide innovative solutions tailored to the size and scope of operation of all participating stokvel groups, individuals and associations through an open exhibition of various products and brands.
Bridging the gap between businesses and communities they serve, there will be ample networking opportunities for various stokvels to engage and forge strong partnerships with other clubs and corporate companies, with one common goal: to increase and promote economic viability in under-served markets through imparting cutting edge knowledge. On a lighter note, the exhibition will serve as platform to highlight the role stokvels played in shaping the course of the nation's history, and its most profound rich heritage.
Excited to be part of a transformative force that will drive future economic growth in South Africa, StovelEx 2014 Director and Co-founder, Neo Mohlatlole, said: "We are pleased to announce this one of its kind exhibition that showcases the spirit and greatness of South Africa. From its history as a socially diverse nation, South Africa has a uniquely African character which StokvelEx hopes to brilliantly capture."
He added: "South Africa is one of few places in Africa and the world at large where stokvels have become part of our everyday life, capturing the heartbeat of Mzansi and its people. We hope the country will take heed of the call for a united front as we explore not only how one of the country's biggest economic drivers can change lives but show how both small and big local businesses can seize the potential in stokvel spending."
Reacting to the market demands as the result of several years of extensive research, the exhibition will also fulfill an educational purpose through workshops where visitors will engage and interact with stokvel gurus, experts and institutions. In keeping up with the nature of stokvels, known for proving both the financial well-being as well as the social and entertainment needs of its members, organisers have secured the services of well informed brand ambassadors to ensure that visitors learn about the latest industry trends in a fun and desired environment.
"This is an exciting time in the history of stokvels as it now means small and big businesses will be given access to a variety of avenues and solutions to stay competitive and gain access to exciting new markets," concludes Mohlatlole.
The South African Savings Institute (SASI) points out that, the number of South Africans using informal mechanisms of finance, whether to access credit, mitigate risk and plan for the future, is too big to ignore. Their exclusion from the mainstream financial sector is partly due to the fragmentation that is characteristic of these informal channels, which makes it difficult to disseminate information relating to financial opportunities and risks that are crucial to their overall wellbeing, says Elizabeth Lwanga-Nanziri, CEO of the South African Savings Institute. "We hope that this is the first step in closing this information gap, and an opportunity to give sufficient and formalised attention to this institution, in a manner that will assist policy makers in their review of the financial sector policies and regulations," adds Lwanga-Nanziri.
StokvelEx 2014 in association with the South African Savings Institute will be held at the Tshwane Events Centre. Tickets will be sold through Computicket and at the gate.
For more information on the StokvelEx, please go to www.stokvelex.co.za.
011 782 6208 / 083 539 3882.