While immigrants are at liberty to start self-help financial associations (referred to as
stokvels in South Africa) to cater for their unfufilled need for capital, the benefits of this laudable
effort are seldom maximised due to a number of shortcomings. Aim: This paper seeks to ascertain the
operational obstacles that immigrant-run stokvels face and to suggest solutions accordingly. Method:
Aiming to complement each other, quantitative and qualitative research approaches were utilised to
conduct this study. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through a self-administered
questionnaire and one-on-one in-depth interviews. Purposive sampling technique was employed to
reach the 123 participants who responded to the survey questionnaire and the 10 that took part in oneon-
one in-depth interviews. Results: The typical immigrant African entrepreneur who participates in
a stokvel, is a married male between ages of 30 and 46, and is fairly educated. While most of the
respondents conceded that their stokvels faced operational problems, they also noted that the default
on loan repayment and unskilled personnel on the loan management team were the issues of a greater
concern. Hence, providing training and practical management skills becomes paramount to the
smooth functioning of these stokvels. Uniqueness and implications: Though presumed to be a
possible source of finance for immigrant-owned businesses, most studies have not explored the
operational challenges that stokvels in South Africa face. The lessons drawn from this study may be
of benefit to the respondents, policy-makers and academics.
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