Are stokvels the old new big thing?
Posted by
Al Mackay at 09:00

Like most marketers, I've spent many, many hours trawling through trend reports and reading through futuristic predictions of where the world is heading. We gobble up the content that the big trend houses give us, desperate to know that our marketing is edgy and modern - and all of us can recite their cleverly named Next Big Things.

But sitting in on one of our fortnightly inter-office Pecha Kucha sessions it dawned on me that so much inspiration for marketing innovation is right under our noses - and we don't see it because we're more interested in what the developed world tells us is cool. Khumo was talking about stokvels. It was massively informative for me - I'd heard their name but didn't really understand how they work or what they're used for.

Stokvels may not sound glamorous or trendy. That's probably just because you know them by their sexier names. You've probably heard of:

  • Crowdfunding. It's the ultimate newcollaborative,democratised means of production. Who needs staid old start-up finance if you can get your idea funded by a crowd?
  • Group buying. Groupon must have invented this, right? What a brilliant innovation  - securing discounts for shoppers while guaranteeing high numbers of sales for retailers.
  • Micro-lending. It's setting the world on fire - empowering small businesses by lending them small amounts of capital to get or keep them going.

Well, it turns out stokvels are crowdfunded group-buying schemes that micro-lend. They're also saving schemes, knowledge pooling events and social functions. It's hard to think of anything that demonstrates trendy new thinking and relevant innovation as much as they do. And we've had them for decades.

How many marketers spend time thinking about how they can tap into them, innovate for them and include them in their strategies? Very few I'd imagine. After all, we didn't read about them on a trend-spotting website. It just demonstrates, again, the power of getting out from behind your desk and into your market. 

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