Assessing the role of stokvels in the start-up and growth of Cameroonian owned businesses in the Cape Metropole
Entrepreneurial activities are very evident within the Cape Metropole as the proliferation of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) will attest. The most recent literature confirms the preponderance of immigrants in these economic activities. This phenomenon is unfolding against the backdrop of the contingent of challenges which they face which are not limited to discrimination, limited access to finance from formal financial institutions, inadequate skills, and language barriers. The limited access which they have to obtaining finance from formal financial institutions constitutes one of the most significant obstacles for many immigrant entrepreneurs. There is evidence to suggest that in response to this state of affairs, immigrants resort to unconventional means to obtain finance for their entrepreneurial activities. It has been found that, immigrants form self-help financial associations which are known as stokvels in South Africa as a means of obtaining the finances which are needed for the start-ups and even for the growth of their businesses. In fact, it could be asserted that the inability of immigrant entrepreneurs to obtain loans from commercial banks and other related financial institutions has resulted directly in the creation of immigrant-run informal financial institutions such as stokvels. Consequently, the main objective of this study was to assess the role which stokvels which are known in Cameroon as “njangis” or “tontines”, play in the start-ups and growth of businesses which are owned by Cameroonian immigrants in the Cape Metropole. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches and research methods were used to conduct this study. The quantitative and qualitative data was collected through the administration of a questionnaire and the conducting of face-to face interviews respectively, owing to the nature of the target population. The data which was collected from the respondents who completed the questionnaires was captured, categorised and analysed in relation to the research questions through the use of SPSS statistical software and the findings were presented in the form of frequency tables and pie charts. The study ascertained that “njangis” play a very important role in the businesses of Cameroonian immigrants and in their daily lives as they are not only a source of capital for the start-ups and expansion of the businesses of their members, but they also provide a means of saving money, as most of them do not have access to bank accounts. According to some of the respondents, some of the “njangis” even serve as forums for discussing business ideas. Like most other organisations, stokvels have their own unique challenges, which will be discussed comprehensively in Chapter Four, particularly with respect to the methods which are employed to overcome them. It is the considered opinion of the researcher that it is in the domain of entrepreneurship in particular that South African citizens could learn a great deal from immigrants from other African countries about the successful starting and running of small, medium and micro sized businesses as recent literature has demonstrated quite conclusively the significant contribution which their entrepreneurial enterprises make to the development of the South African economy, in terms of both earning revenue for the South African government and providing employment to South African citizens.
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