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Adding value to your chama

Investment clubs or chamas are formed to improve members’ financial status.

Chamas are informal groups of like-minded people who come together, to pool resources either on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis and provide members with capital for personal projects.

Chamas have grown tremendously with some of them turning into big companies handling multiple portfolios and billions of shillings.

However, a lot of discipline is called for.

If you have a vision for your group to grow, here are a few tips that will add value and take it to the next level.

1. Add an educational agenda: The chama should offer more than just financial benefits. It needs to be an information centre where members gain insights into the money market and how they can improve their lives.

Consider bringing in experts to guide members on investments. These experts can prepare training sessions and offer reading material to members for reference.

2. Add a social support aspect: The group can expand to be a social support system where members carry each other’s burden during family crises such as death or share in each other’s successes such as graduations and weddings.

Each member will contribute money to help the concerned member meet his/her expenses that come along with their situation.

The amount can be agreed upon while there should be penalties for those who will abscond as included in the group’s constitution.

3. Go digital: Having an online presence can open up numerous doors for your chama. Most groups are typically private members-only type of arrangement.

While this privacy can be maintained, having a blog or website is useful for sharing financial tips and training materials amongst members as well as the public.

It also helps members to keep track of trends in the money market as well as attract new members or partners who want to collaborate with your chama.

If for any reason a member is not able to physically attend the chama meetings, they can keep abreast with club developments online. This can be made possible through a password-protected portal. 

4. Formalise your chama for increased benefits: Most chamas tend to remain informal for the most part.

By registering your chama, you ensure that it is a formal entity recognisable by law.This allows you to open an bank account where your savings can earn interest.

Members also gain from access to credit services offered by banks and funds such as Women Fund or Youth Fund.

Georgia Atieno is a financial communications consultant and freelance writer.

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