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Brief overview of outcomes

Savings and Credit Groups (SCGs) are key within the SaveAct model in assisting the rural poor and specifically women to engage actively in productive activities such as agricultural enterprises. The commodity interest group (CIG) focus for agricultural enterprises assists substantially in providing cheaper inputs, improving production and gaining knowledge for their enterprises. In interviews conducted with participants, of a sample of 100 , all CIG participants have mentioned trying out new ideas introduced in the CIG meetings and learning workshops. Around 48% of CIG participants have made use of the bulk buying processes set up.

Currently, there is a growing demand for production training in poultry and vegetables, training and support in rainwater harvesting, and Isiqalo (business start up) training. Further support in bulk buying and access to inputs has been requested.

Most of the SCG and CIG participants are women, the majority of whom are older women. Their overall average incomes are extremely low at around R1 800/month. People spend around 15% of their incomes on their agricultural enterprises, using primarily SCG loans and share-outs for these activities. Basic needs, home improvements, education and consumption smoothing[1] take up the largest proportion of their expenditure.

Of the 85% of respondents in a survey of CIG participants involved in agricultural enterprises close to 50% do not make an income from these activities, but produce food for their households.

Introduction and background

SaveAct has been operating in Matatiele for around five years. In this time the SCGs have expanded dramatically and support has been provided for local economic development.

A PMSA (participatory market system analysis) was done for the Matatiele, Mt Fletcher area towards the end of 2010. The process led to the development of the agricultural enterprise support model which includes a VCA (participatory value chain assessment) for interested SCG members in a locality, the creation of CIGs (Commodity Interest Groups) around locally prioritized commodities/ agricultural enterprises, training in business start-up skills (Isiqalo) for interested CIG members and ongoing mentoring support in input supply, production aspects and marketing within the CIGs.

In 2013 more coherent support for Isiqalo training and CIGs was provided. The table below summarises the participation in these processes.

Isiqalo training summary; Matatiele 2013 No
Isiqalo trainee days 102
Improvement of current business (according to business plans submitted) 40 (n=69)
New businesses (Acc to new business plans submitted) 16 (n=69)
Isiqalo themes per training group:
Poultry; broiler production 1
Sheep; meat and wool 1
Vegetable production and sheep management 1
Vegetable production and poultry 2
CIG training summary; Matatiele 2013 No
Total CIG trainee days (overall no of people attending) 548
Total number of CIG training days 35
Average number of participants per training day 16
CIG theme:
Maize 94
Poultry 58
Sheep 50
Pigs 67
Vegetables 27

In July 2014 research was initiated to assess the livelihoods of participants, including changes and potential impact of the agricultural enterprise interventions. This research was designed partly as a preliminary attempt to develop an appropriate methodology for a livelihoods tracking system, and partly to achieve a better understanding of the livelihood outcomes and impact associated with SaveAct’s work.Bulk buying has been a strong focus of the CIGs and since 2011 has included; potato seed, vegetable seedlings and more recently, poultry ‘packs’. Isiqalo training has been conducted for around 200 individuals over the past 3 years. A focused programme around smallholder farmer innovation in maize and bean production, working with conservation agriculture (CA) principles and techniques has been initiated in partnership with GrainSA and the Maize Trust.

An E-survey consisting of 70 questions and including photographs of respondents’ homesteads and enterprise activities as well as GPS coordinates was conducted using the Dooblo software and online platform. 5 Post graduate students, working with tablets, assisted in the interviewing process

One hundred respondents (89% female) from 13 different villages and representing 54 SCGs, were interviewed. Total supervised membership at present is 4195 members across 227 SCGs (7726 members in total across 418 SCGs). This sample size provides a confidence interval of 5.86% at a 95% confidence level. Random selection at SCG and CIG meetings was used as a sampling procedure. This falls within purposive sampling methodology, which is a non parametric approach.

See Table 1 below for a breakdown of respondents’ villages, SCG and CIG membership and CA participation. All respondents are members of SCGs formed by SaveAct. 85% of respondents considered themselves members of CIGs or had some CIG involvement and 10% of respondents were part of the CA farmer innovation programme (of a total of 24 participants there).

table 1: respondents interviewed in the livelihoods assessment

No of respondents per village CIG member CA participant
Village name Female Male Total
Hebron 4 3 7 6
Khauoe 20 1 21 14 3
Khutsong 1 2 3 3
Lubisini 16 16 15 2
Pontsheng 16 1 17 16 5
Stathi 5 5 4
Thinana 3 3 3
Other 24 4 28 24
Andries Location 1 1 1
Jabulani 5 2 7 7
Maluti 9 9 6
Mapeng 3 2 5 5
Pehong 5 5 4
St. Paul 1 1 1
Total 89 11 100 85 10

Information collected regarding the date of birth of the respondents suggests a predictable trend towards older women being involved in SCGs and agricultural enterprises. This follows the overall trend in rural areas of women being primarily responsible for providing food for their families, while younger women do not engage as prominently in farming activities. Thus, only 5% of respondents are younger than 30 yrs and 58% of respondents are older than 60 years of age. Including CIG membership into the table of age distribution shows a curious trend where women between the ages of 50-60 years are the least involved in CIGs, and the younger and older age groups show around 80% representation.

table 2: Age of respondents linked to CIG membership

Age range in years No of respondents No of CIG members
Unknown 2 1
21-30 5 5
31-40 10 8
41-50 25 17
51-60 25 21
61-70 26 25
71-80 6 5
≥ 81 1 1

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