Coop for Catholic women in Eswatini

by Babongile Mlambo

“Exploring the role of the church in the Economic Empowerment of God’s people in Swaziland
for Vision 2022”.

The above vision was shared by the former Hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce with different Church bodies at a meeting held sometime in November 2015. One of the SCCW members, Ms Patsy Zeeman, who was also a part of the Council of Churches representatives attending that meeting, shared with us the vision in detail.

The Eswatini government invited the religious people (Christians) to think of how they could contribute to the economic empowerment of Christians in the country. After a few meetings and presentations by Mr Charles Khumalo from the Department of Cooperatives in the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, the members of SCCW decided to venture into a Multi-purpose Cooperative for financial and economic empowerment of Catholic women.

A meeting was then organised by the SCCW where Mr Khumalo, in the presence of Bishop Jose Luis and the spiritual advisor Fr. Ndwandwe, explained what was expected to set up and sustain such a Coop, and how his department was going to help the women. The wish to start a Coop by the SCCW was approved by the Bishop after that meeting.

The women, with the guidance of Mr Charles Khumalo, and other officers from the department of Coops, elected a steering committee that was going to kick-start the Coop.

ELIGIBILITY: It was agreed that the Coop will be open to all Catholic women in the diocese of Manzini, above the age of 18 years and will be known by the name: “Sivuno saboMake bemaKhatolika”.

The long-term Multi-Purpose project is now registered with the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, and a bank account has been opened for transactions. The joining fee was pegged at E100.00 once-off, with monthly subscriptions of not less than E100.00, annual renewal fee of E100.00 and member shares of E1000, 00 with an option of paying off the shares at once or in instalments (ref: SCCW 2017/2018 Annual Report, pages 9-10). Currently, there are 83 members who have joined the Coop, and among those, 44 of them have paid their shares either fully or partly.

Members are encouraged to join the long-term empowerment project whose main activities involve saving and borrowing against one’s savings and shares, paying off the borrowed money with a little interest, having pool funds being used for organisation projects, all in a bid to empower Catholic women and indirectly their families, communities and the church at large financially and economically by the year 2022 and beyond.

It is in the best interest of the mother body (WUCWO), to have “Catholic women participating in the church and society, working for human development – reducing poverty” etc as quoted in WUCWO’s sole aim.

As SCCW, we have responded to the call made by the government, propelled by the WUCWO aim as well as our own personal, family, community and church needs, we are taking up the challenge on financial and economic empowerment as of now, till we reach the sky and beyond, IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY.