Given the increasing number of COVID19 infections, it was inevitable that the festive holidays were to be experienced, a little differently in 2020. The festive season is known to be a time whereby there is an increase in hospital admissions (especially at the trauma ward). It was no surprise when the President announced mid-December 2020 that the country was to move from level one restrictions to level three adjusted restrictions. Level 3 prohibited the sale of alcohol.
Level 3, also restricted all social gatherings and funeral attendance was limited to less than fifty people. There was also a curfew announced, that restricted the movement of people. The main aim of the restrictions was to save lives. However, those in the informal economy were worried about how they could save livelihoods. Undoubtedly, the lockdown restrictions contributed a lot on a loss of income, therefore directly impacting the stokvel economy. Even though some stokvels tried hard to run normally during the festive season, most were forced to adapt to the new normal of doing things.
Palesa Lengolo, author of a book titled ‘Stokvels: How They Can Make Your Money Work for You said’, “Stokvels were greatly impacted by the lockdown restrictions. Most of the stokvels usually meet physically for their different activities. They did though quickly adjust to being fully digital, with the support of apps such as Stokfella and WhatsApp (used correctly not to scam others) for ease of communication.”
Even though the lockdown during the festive season, had a negative impact, some positives need to be noted. Ms Lengolo argues that “the restrictions definitely did speed up the process of stokvels digitisation, the transformation was slower before.”
As it is apparent, that for the coming years Covid19 will remain the new normal. Stokvels need to embrace new technologies; this will assist in ensuring that stokvels are not only progressive but also protect their members. Ms Lengolo, is of the view, that the digitisation of the stokvel industry is important, at it will assist in making sure that stokvels are on par with other modern businesses.