How two groups of professional women have used a Chama to build
Creating a Chama to build wealth is a great strategy. This week we interview two very different Chamas to learn more about how to make your Chama a success.
The Gracious Mums Chama is a group of five professional, mothers who got together two years ago. “We wanted to create and be in charge of our own individual wealth as well as participate in investment opportunities that we would otherwise not be able to access on our own,” says club member Ruth Muloko who explains that the Chama has been able to harness the buying power of the group. If they were investing 1,000 shillings a month on their own they would only have 12,000 a year, but by combining their contributions they can make sizeable investments.
“Another reason for creating the Chama was that in belonging to the group each person is accountable to the other as the timeous collection of the monthly contributions is the driver behind the purchase of our investments. There isn’t any room for members to be lax,” says Chama member Susie Mbula.
The Chama started with an initial contribution of 2,000 shillings which was a commitment fee to the Chama and the membership fees were 1,000 shillings per month. As their earnings have increased and their confidence in their investment strategies, the monthly contributions have escalated to 2,000 shillings and will be increased by 1,000 shillings every year going forward.
Wise Ladies Trading epitomizes the next stage in a Chama. The investment company was formed in 2010 by ten mature women who wanted to take their existing Chama to a new level. “Our vision for creating the company was to create wealth for shareholders,” says Wise Ladies Trading chief operating officer Elsa Omollo. Wise Ladies Trading has been built into a significant investment fund and the members no longer need to contribute as the company is now self-financing.
What ensures success?
Ruth and Elsa agree that the Chama must be made up of people who have similar financial goals and who will be in a position to make both the financial and time contributions. “What has definitely been helpful is that Gracious Mums Chama is represented by dynamic professional women who have an understanding of the world of business, ethics and commitment and we have seen this translate in the manner in which we manage both the Chama and ourselves”. Ruth says the Chamas that are successful are those where the members are in similar stages of their lives. You would have a group of young female professionals or a group of mature women with children, or an investment club of retired women.
Elsa says a Chama is like a child, it needs to be nourished in all stages from birth to development to growth to maturity. You need to have a clear idea of what the Chama is aiming to achieve and set these out in your strategy which is contained in your Chama’s constitution.
Starting a Chama has its challenges, the main one is having everyone equally committed. There is no point in starting a Chama unless you know the people involved will be 100 percent dedicated. There will be issues like non-payment by members, lack of attendance at meetings or lack of participation from the members. The administration of opening of accounts is also difficult especially getting everyone together at the same time and getting the documents together. Elsa says they have managed these issues by reaffirming their commitment to the Chama based on their original foundation principles that no one person is here for a free ride and they must all make a meaningful contribution to the growth and success of the Chama.
Elsa says the challenge they have is that being a group of ten you do not always agree on everything and you find yourselves deliberating on one issue for long.
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