This feature was first published on People Daily

Birthed to steer the youths off the addictions such as betting where most disposable income currently ends up, SMEP Micro-finance Bank leveraged on an ingenious 52 weeks savings challenge.

To cushion the youth, the micro-finance started the weekly saving challenge to help youths and Kenyans plan for a dry spell.

This is expected to not only deepen Kenya’s savings culture but also help people achieve their goals as the cost of living increases through prudent management of cash.

SMEP chief executive Symon Kamore told People Daily that the now famous January cash crunch — christened Njanuary — informed this creative saving model as youths continued betting but claimed they did not have money.

“Around January, people claim that weeks become longer and the month is the longest every year. So to help people be prepared through financial management, we incorporated this model to help the youths save responsibly,” he said.

Mobilise resources

With Kenya huge informal sector, most youths cannot mobilise resources monthly, making the weekly challenge an appropriate way to accumulate cash for many youths who are currently in small-scale businesses such as boda boda.

Enabled by a mobile application, and financial literacy lessons from the organisation, 7,000 youths managed to save in excess of Sh50 million from the initiative.

“We realised they were spending money on betting, drinking and other activities which were not paying them back. But if they could save as little as Sh25 or Sh50, they could pool a huge chunk of money which can help them,” he said.

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In its second year, SMEP plans to take the saving concept to parents with children in classes six, seven and eight targeting school fees in Form One. He also intends to reach out to pregnant women for savings that will cushion them at birth.

“Nothing is an emergency, taking children to school or even giving birth. These are not emergencies and people must not treat them as such. You need to be always prepared,” he said.

With an incentive of up to Sh137,800 after 52 weeks of saving Sh100 weekly, the money can go a long way to offset bills. The aim is to reach a minimum of Sh34,450 by saving Sh25 per week or Sh68, 900 by saving Sh50 per week. The amount that one chooses increases by a similar amount to the initial deposit per week.

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