Status of men and women’s saving in informal finance groups in Gachagi informal settlement - Thika sub-county, Kenya
Mwangi, Judy Wambui
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Studies indicate that most people living in the informal settlements are usually financially excluded and therefore rely on informal finance groups for their financial upkeep. Out of this concern, this study aimed at establishing the status of men and women’s saving in the informal finance groups in an informal settlement, namely Gachagi in Thika SubCounty, Kenya. The study adopted qualitative descriptive study design, and was guided by behavioral life cycle theory advanced by Thaler (1954). The target population was 20 informal finance groups comprising 10 Rotating Saving and Credit Associations (ROSCAs), 5 welfare/clan groups, 3 Accumulating Savings and Credit Associations (ASCAs) and 2 investment groups. Out of the 20 informal finance groups, a sample size of 11 informal finance groups comprising 5 ROSCAs, 3 welfare/clan groups, 2 ASCAs and 1 investment 10 group were selected forming a sample of 55%. The main respondents of the study were members of the selected informal finance groups including officials. In addition, the Divisional Social Services Officer (DSSO), the Chief and two elders from informal settlement were also included in the sample. Data collection tools were focus group discussion guides for the men and women in informal finance groups, interview guides for key informants and observation checklist for confirming the information gathered during FGDs. The data was analyzed qualitatively on the basis of themes guided by the study objectives. Finding indicated that gender, marital status, age, education level and economic status influenced informal finance membership. The major group operations revealed were group regular contribution, holding group meetings, selection of group officials, ensuring safe keeping of group money, using a constitution as an operational guide, loan disbursement, keeping of group financial records and actualization of official registration of the group. The major reasons influencing men and women to engage in informal finance groups were to save money, inculcation of saving discipline and easy access to their savings and loans among others. There were challenges which hindered smooth running of these groups and therefore discouraged the rate of saving among men and women. This included poor governance, low attendance of group meetings and burdensome gender roles among others. To enhance the status of men and women’s saving in informal finance groups, the study recommends that the government through the Department of Social Services provides capacity building to the group members to enhance good financial practice and group management and also put in place official mechanisms to enforce group registration with the Department of Social Services. Additionally, the study recommends a need for the County government to encourage the poor in the informal finance groups to utilize the formal financial institutions.