On November 11, 2016, I was thankful to visit some folks in Manya Manyama who have been doing the asset-based community development and savings and loan plan that we will do with all of the churches that we work with.
In mid-2014, a church in Manya Manyama started doing asset-based community development. During this process they realized that they already had some assets:
-People that they see everyday and do business with
-Time, if it is well-planned
After seeing their opportunity to reach out to their community’s physical needs and the resources they had to do so, they decided to start a savings and loan group in November 2014. After only three months they reached the twenty-five member limit and divided into two groups, and then did so again a few months later. When I visited on the 11th, members from all three groups were present.
The members set savings goals and then hold each other accountable towards them. We were late arriving, and they told us they had been talking about their goals while they were waiting for us. They went around the room and told us about some of the goals that were set in the past and achieved:
-Several had bought a motorcycle.
-Several had built a bigger, drier house.
-One woman had plastered the bare brick walls in her house and replaced her dirt floor with a cement floor.
-One woman (the one showing off her yellow dress) bought a bigger bed.
-If people cannot afford window frames, they board up the window holes with bricks. One woman said she had been able to replace the bricks with window frames.
-One woman bought a bike, because she lives far away from any water source.
-One woman had no chairs for her house and was able to buy some.
-The woman in the center, standing to the left of the man in the purple shirt, said she had paid for her son to go to a better school for the last years of his education. He has since finished, gotten a good job, and is really helping the family to get out of poverty.
I was thankful to see that these groups also have a “mfuko ya jamii” (community purse). Members can save different amounts each week, which are then loaned out and finally divided up at the end. However, each member is required to put 1000 TZS (about fifty cents) per week in the mfuko ya jamii. The mfuko ya jamii was created to help members when an emergency arises and they suddenly need a lump sum. They use this most commonly for sickness, paying for a funeral for an immediate family member, and paying school fees, and it is repaid once things have calmed down.
The success of asset-based community development and savings and loan groups in Manya Manyama makes me optimistic about trying it with the UMC churches in the Mara region.