Stokvels are clubs or syndicates serving as rotating credit unions in South Africa where members contribute fixed sums of money to a central fund on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Each month a different member receives the money in the fund, which was collected during that period, with no one ever defaulting on contributions. The members can then use the collected fund for their own use, either for payment or investment purposes. These stokvels have been a target for various investment houses in South Africa, hoping to bring these informal saving schemes into the main stream financial world. Having said that, the stokvels are still very much a part of black South African communities and will probably do so for a number of years to come.
The best historic overview of this uniquely South African phenomenon can be found in Lukhele, A.K. 1990. Stokvels in South Africa: Informal savings schemes by blacks for the black community. Amagi Books, Johannesburg. These savings clubs have had a profound impact on the social and economic development of blacks in this part of the world.
The reason that these clubs are so successful also centers around the social aspects surrounding these clubs - for example women organisers hold parties on Sunday afternoons. In the past they have set the social scene a-buzz with group names like the 'Transvaalians','Black Lions', 'Victory Ladies' and the 'Double up 6Bs'. They often wore uniforms, sang initiation and popular songs as well as hymns.