Self-Help Groups

The Zimele model works to:

  • empower women by unlocking skills, resources, support systems and networks, and
  • create new opportunities such as local and international markets and links to government programmes.

Phase 1: Self-Help Group (SHG)

The first stage of Zimele’s programme is the mobilisation of women into Self-Help Groups (SHG)s of 10-20 women who come together in the build self-confidence and a mutual support network. During this stage, the women are guided towards developing life and business skills. The aim is to encourage them to start up their own business enterprise so that they may generate income to support their families. The initial costs of these enterprises are funded through the SHG saving programme, whereby each member contributes a small sum of money to the group fund each week. As the fund grows, the women may take out loans to purchase materials and equipment for their new businesses. Each loan is then paid back at the end of the month with 10% interest to ensure fund growth.

Phase 2: Cluster Level Association (CLA)

In the second stage, two members of 6-8 SHGs then assemble to form a Cluster Level Association (CLA) which meets once a month to discuss larger scale business opportunities and devise money saving strategies such as sharing a bus to an urban market. Furthermore, they evaluate the needs of the community and discuss the development services such as home based care for HIV/AIDS patients and vulnerable children. These projects are funded by loans from the CLA savings account and must be paid back with interest to ensure the fund’s continued growth.

Phase 3: Federation

Zimele is excited to be working towards creating its first Federation in 2014. This will consist of two representatives from each of the 8-10 CLAs. It will act as a leadership council to guide economic, social and healthcare programmes on a wider scale. The aim is also to work towards creating partnerships with banks to provide low-interest revolving loans for the various social services projects. The Federation stage is envisaged as taking over the management of the SHG and CLA programmes as part of Zimele’s long-term exit strategy from its current communities.