May 12, 2023   by

Despite their focus on finances as their primary goal, we cannot ignore the impact of chamas on social cohesion and community development.

In Kenya, chamas are investment groups that are a common and popular way for people to come together for a common goal. People who share a common interest or come from the same community often form these groups, pool resources, and invest in various ventures.

It is indisputable that chamas are a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Kenyan people, and they are a source of hope for the future of Kenya.

The Role of Chamas in Promoting Social Cohesion

The whole idea of chamas bringing people together stands out by enabling the members to interact with each other. In most instances, members would otherwise not interact if there is no platform bringing them together. By members interacting with each other, they are able to feel a sense of belonging to a community.

Often, people from different backgrounds and walks of life draw members to a chama. As a result of their interaction, they are able to break down barriers and promote understanding and tolerance. 

Members not only interact in the chama meetings but also share their experiences and ideas. In the chama forum, members are able to learn from each other and build their relationships.

The chamas facilitate a platform for members to participate in local development initiatives, in addition to that. This can help to create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the community. The chama involves its members in various decision-making processes. This creates a sense of ownership and belonging for the members.

Image illustrating Social cohesion as one of the impact of chamas
Social Cohesion.

Chamas are also keen to ensure that they promote social cohesion through their focus on mutual support. This is attributed to the fact that chamas often work together to achieve a common goal. To ensure that working together is successful, the members are required to have a high level of trust and cooperation. Members of Chamas commit themselves to making contributions in support of each other in time of need. These processes could include contributing to a member’s medical expenses or helping out in the event of a family emergency. Ensuring mutual support creates a strong sense of community and belonging among members.

The Role of Chamas in Promoting Community Development

By chamas focusing on their members, it is not only social cohesion that is promoted but also community development. 

First, chamas can provide financial resources to the members. By doing this, a member is able to invest in small businesses and other ventures that can help create jobs and stimulate economic growth in their communities. In the instance where the members need to make investments in small businesses, it is possible for the members to receive financial literacy classes from the chama on business management practices. The chama structure also involves the pooling of resources by the members. Therefore, by pooling their resources together, chamas can provide funding for entrepreneurs who might not otherwise have access to capital. This can help create a more vibrant local economy and improve the overall quality of life in the community.

Promoting Community Development.

In chama’s role to promote community development, they might also provide money to build a new school or water well. By doing this, chamas promote education and other forms of personal development.

In addition to that, chamas could also provide labor for community projects. A chama could achieve this by helping to clean a public place or participating in tree-planting activities. 

Chama meetings characterize the existence of chamas. Members are required to attend regular meetings where they are able to catch up and learn about various topics related to finance, business, and other areas of interest. In these chama meetings, some may be scheduled as opportunities for members to attend workshops or training sessions that can help them develop new skills or improve existing ones. This is therefore one of the very important ways that chamas focus on the personal development of their members. This is crucial in helping members improve their economic prospects and increase their overall well-being.

Other key chama advantages.

Promoting gender equality.

Chamas successfully achieve the empowerment of women by providing them with access to financial resources and opportunities for leadership.

Gender equality as one of the impact of chamas
Gender Equality.

This is a major advantage that chamas provide as in most instances women are underserved and thus have limited access to financial resources. Also, most women are locked out of various important decision-making processes. However, chamas provide a space for them to express their ideas and also make key decisions important for their welfare. 

Through chamas, women are able to come together and pool their resources, giving them greater economic power and a voice in their communities. Chamas can also provide a support network for women, helping them navigate the challenges of running a business or managing their finances.

Challenges facing chamas.

  1. Risk of fraud and mismanagement

Chamas often involve the handling and management of huge sums of money. Therefore, they face the risk that some members may try to take advantage of the group for personal gain. 

This could result in huge losses for the chama and even in some instances, chama failure.

  1. High level of organizational skills required.

Running chamas is often not an easy task. It calls for high-level organizational skills. Also, managing the finances and members in general could be quite time-consuming and in instances where the chama is making use of manual systems, it could lead to errors. Therefore, most chamas have resulted in digitizing their operations. Chama management software ensures ease in managing the chama, particularly the bookkeeping process.

Chama management software is able to digitize the process and help reduce the risk of errors in chama data.

  1. Potential conflict among members.

All chama decision making processes require consensus. The members mainly run the chamas and need to agree on various issues, resulting in this situation.

If the chama does not effectively manage disagreements and conflicts, the group may experience division, which could ultimately undermine the chama’s goals.

Despite these challenges, chamas remain an important tool for promoting social cohesion and community development in Kenya. By providing a space for people to come together and pool their resources, chamas can help create a stronger sense of community and empower individuals to improve their economic prospects. As Kenya continues to face economic and social challenges, chamas will likely continue to play a vital role in promoting positive changes


In conclusion, chamas are a valuable asset to Kenya. They provide a way for people to save money, access credit, and learn about financial management. They are also vital in promoting social cohesion and community development. The continued development, digitization, and support of chamas is a sure move to promote positive change in Kenya. The chamas have inevitably proven that they are a source of hope for the future of Kenya.

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This post was written by Cynthia Njoki

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