How The Two Founders Behind SA's First Stokvel Expo Are Catering To This Fast-Evolving Market

StokvelEx wants to fix the 'disconnect" between service providers and stokvels


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Neo Mohlatlole and Eugene Mametse, founders of StokvelEx

Two young startup founders, Soweto-born Eugene Mametse and Neo Mohlatlole from Lebowakgomo in Limpopo, launched StokvelEx, what they say is the only exhibition series focused solely on the stokvel market.

Now in its fourth year, StokvelEx is serving a market that is moving into the mainstream and continues to see growth.

It is estimated that there are over 820,000 stokvels in the country with a combined membership of 11.4 million people, handling over R44 billion per annum, according to a recent Business Report article.

The introduction of stokvels in the exhibitions market, as well the introduction of a number of solutions in areas like banking and tech, including the StokFella App, are examples of how the multi-billion Rand industry is being catered to. 

The aim of their exhibition series, Mametse says, is to provide a platform for new and established stokvels to link with various service providers from financial service providers such as banking institutions to funeral undertakers, as well as wholesalers and service providers in the education and tourism sectors to drive growth, investment and development within the South African stokvel landscape.

"We want stokvels to do 'business unusual'"

"When we entered this space there was a disconnect between service providers and the informal market. Many stokvels felt disgruntled with service providers that were in the market introducing once-off, [off-the-shelf] products or services for the stokvel community without understanding their stokvel model nor social standing in society," says Mametse.

The company behind the expos is Seven Colors Communications, a 100% black youth-led communications agency that offers services such as strategy development, public relations, brand building and exhibitions and eventing, founded by Mametse and Mohlatlole. 

Their client list includes brands such as fast food giant, KFC, and beverages giant SAB, as well as financial services provider, Old Mutual, the NYDA and global energy producer and provider, Total.

Seven Colors' Mametse gives the low-down on how they see their exhibitions taking the stokvel market into a new era.

Q. Why the expo approach to the stokvel market?
Traditional saving schemes such as stokvels have been in existence for decades, this traditional savings culture is worth an estimated R45 billion.

This pool of money is informally and formally circulating amongst stokvel, financial institutions and mattresses.

We saw that there was a gap and an opportunity to bring forth service providers servicing the stokvel market under one roof with the sole purpose of increasing and promoting  economic viability in under-served markets through imparting cutting edge knowledge and forging strategic partnerships with Stokvels.

"The intention is to drive growth and diversify these Stokvels as formidable organizations  that can thrive on their own"

Q. What problem are you looking to solve with your approach? 
We are looking at a component where Stokvels can forge strategic partnerships with various industries. We want stokvels to do "business unusual" –  a burial society or savings stokvel for instance has to expand and look at investment opportunities, whether its property investment or trading in the stock market or being a cooperation that can access opportunities whilst creating employment opportunities for its community.

The intention is to drive growth and diversify these Stokvels as formidable organizations  that can thrive on their own.

Q. Who is your target exhibitor and attendee? 
As a result of having different types of Stokvels from burial, savings to lifestyle stokvels – we extend an invitation to key industries. Our exhibitors include financial institutions, burial companies, investment companies, travel and tourism related products, educational institutions, property, wholesalers and FMCG to name a few.

The exhibition is attended by stokvels, burial societies, investment clubs, cooperatives, SMME’s and the regular Joe/Kedibone who’s interested in this market.


See also: How This Stokvel Fan Turned Techpreneur Is Hoping To Revolutionise The Way They Do Business

 

Q. How can interested SMEs get involved? 
There are several opportunities for SMMEs in the stokvel market. Those in the tourism space, [for example], owners of guests houses could render their lodges/houses to stokvels as meeting points, same thing for caterers.

When stokvel members meet they consume food and drinks. As a result there’s an opportunity for caterers to grow their revenue by forging links with Stokvels. Uniform is another way for SMME’s in the sewing or knitting business to partner with Stokvels.

For us as the StokvelEx brand we continue to find alternative ways for Stokvels to work with SMME’s.

Q. The stokvel expo is not the only focus of your business, why the move into conferencing and exhibits?
 We wanted to penetrate this space as we saw a lot of growth and potential to grow our business. There's also a lot of innovation in the exhibition business and this resonates with our business and our footing globally.

Q. Dates for future events?
Our next installment will be held in Limpopo on 21-22 October at the Jack Botes Hall and in Gauteng Soweto at the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown on 18 – 19 November 2017 and in the North West Vryburg in March 2018.

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