A study of group lending in Swaziland : a case of Imbita Swaziland Women's Financial Trust fund
Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
The provision of finance to the poor through group lending has evolved enormously over the years following the successful implementation by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and the BancoSol in Bolivia. Various microfinance institutions in Swaziland also adopted this model and achieved varying results. Imbita Swaziland Women’s Finance Trust Fund is the only microfinance institution that has continuously embraced this model whilst others closed down or migrated to individual lending. This paper uses Imbita as the focal organisation for the study in order to understand the adoption of group lending in Swaziland. The core objectives of the paper were to evaluate Imbita’s experience in applying this model, understanding the characteristics of the groups they lend to and how the groups manage loan repayment. Data collected from the groups suggests that Imbita has relatively succeeded in applying group lending as evidenced by the high performance of group loans compared to individual loans. This success is attributed to close monitoring of the groups and peer selection at the group formation stage. The success is coupled with a few challenges which include inaccessibility of groups, capital limitations within the organisation and non repayment of loans. A majority of the groups comprised family members, aged between 26-45 years and are involved in informal business activities. The high presence of family members in the groups negatively affects the repayment performance of a group. Groups that had known each other for a longer period (11 years and above) prior to group formation perform better in loan repayment compared to those who have known each other for a shorter period (6-10 years). Groups still struggle with ensuring repayment of loans on time by members hence they always apply pressure on members to repay. However they still maintain the joint liability obligation by paying loans on behalf of members who need help in paying their loans. However, some groups have faced dissolution and were reformed as a result of non-payment. The application of group lending still requires design and implementation improvements. Some of the design improvements include ensuring homogeneity within the groups, reducing the sizes of groups, aligning repayment periods with the nature of each particular business and collecting sufficient information on borrowers. The high presence of family members within groups needs to be discouraged to improve loan repayment performance.