Burial societies can easily be modeled into business entities and make a difference to the members’ lives back in Zimbabwe. I have been thinking about our people based in South Africa and their avid love of burial societies. They are so united, every weekend they converge at various public parks to contribute funds for funerals through their Burial Societies whilst on the other hand it is an opportunity to touch base on goings from home.
It will be interesting to know how much economic value SA based Zimbabwean burial societies contribute overally. I am thinking, what if they take part of their monthly/ weekly contributions and invest in viable business ideas back at home? I am just uncomfortable about their determination to invest in their death than their future considering most of them are young people who still have bright futures ahead of them. This will need a change of mind set and a different way of doing things.
The Guardian Newspaper reports that 11.7 million South Africans attend burial society meetings every month. It asserts that there more than 100,000 burial societies across the country. This to me provides prospects for lucrative businesses if our Zimbabweans based in South Africa can get an education on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Imagine many of our people do menials every day just to be able to contribute in a burial society after the death of their loved one, they have nothing to show for their lifetime contributions.
I think networks of Zimbabweans based in South Africa must begin to dialogue on opportunities that can be explored by these burial societies. The strength of these burial societies is that they have loyal members. A burial society is community-orientated and enjoys rife support and is less regulated than a funeral plan.
In as much as benefits can be accrued after death of the member or family member, I think they can be transformed into meaningful business concerns that can cater for both the living and the dead.
Locally for example The Chronicle Newspaper (05 May, 2016) reported that the system has worked well for many, but for some it has been a chain of disasters. It also stated that some members have been snubbed at their time of need because of premium payment defaults.Imagine if this burial society was a business entity, it could have not perhaps considered the missed payment.
*This is an opinion piece by Michael Ndiweni. He is the Executive Director of Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA).*