The Women Informed Us
Members of the SMS System (aka Bugolobi Market Mailing List) are starting to propose their own plans for how to best use the platform:
“The women informed us about their plans of using the SMS System in their savings association. They said they want to use it to send messages to group members reminding them of the meetings and the payment of debts. They requested us to [help] the other women join the SMS System. The association comprises of 30 members, and the majority are women. They meet on Wednesday at 3pm, and the other two associations meet on Tuesday and Thursday.
Maama Zaina told us that she talked to the group about the SMS System and they were interested and excited about it. For this reason, Maama Zaina requested us to go on Wednesday to [help] other women join the system. She said that the other two groups will learn from them.” Joan Nankya and Catherine Apalat, Field Researchers, May 19, 2013 in Bugolobi Market
As a result, Joan and Cathy attended one of the savings association meetings on May 29th. They met with six women and one man, and learning firsthand the detailed protocols that govern savings associations in Bugolobi Market.
- Members must work in Bugolobi Market
- Members must be over the age of 18
- Members can only hold one account per savings association (however, a member’s child can represent them in another savings association)
- Members must declare a security, such as a television, based upon the amount of money you plan to borrow from the group
- Members join in January
- Members must receive training in the savings association policies, procedures, and methods, facilitated by the leader of the association
Each group does not store their funds in a bank, but in a blue metal case that remains with the association leader. To borrow money, members write their name, amount borrowed, and repayment plan in a small book. The groups each have a leader, secretary, and treasurer.
The associations hope to use the SMS System to remind members of meetings and payments. Also, if a member looses a relative and is not able to join the weekly meeting, they can use the SMS System to tell the association about the problem that is preventing them from attending the meeting. Leaders also want to use the SMS System to mobilize other women to join an association. With these aims in mind, Joan and Cathy registered five new members to the SMS System.
Joan and Cathy tried to attend another savings association meeting the following day, but when they arrived, the group was very busy calculating their money. The group was also “talking about a particular lady who had not cleared her loans. They were discussing whether members of the group were willing to approach her and see how she can clear her loan,” explained Cathy. As the meeting came to a close, everyone rushed back to their shops and stalls in preparation for customers stopping at the market on their way home from work.