About E171 000 (US$11 689) has been saved by students from their pocket money through the In-School Youth Co-operative programme introduced by Junior Achievement (JA) Eswatini in February 2018.

A total of 40 students cooperatives with a combined membership of 4 200 have been established since, according to JA Acting Board Chairperson Sabelo Msibi. He was speaking during the 3rd Africa Cooperative Youth Conference held at the George Hotel in Manzini on October 30, 2018 where he was representing Director Nokukhanya Gamedze.

Msibi said when the schools cooperative concept was started, the idea was to introduce it to students and test their appetite to save. However, he said, the programme surpassed expectation as it became the benchmark for the whole of Africa.

“JA Eswatini started the students’ cooperatives early this year, a practical component of the financial Literacy Programme with an aim to expose students to practical means of saving regardless of their level of income,” Msibi said.

He added that students in this programme were encouraged to decide on the amount to save on a continuous basis. Once they did that, they elected their own executive committee to manage the affairs of the cooperative at school level as well as make their own bi-laws and constitution as part of the framework from the commissioner’s office.

“The concrete partnership we have with the Commissioner of Cooperatives’ office was instrumental in training and guiding teachers and students as they establish their cooperatives. I wish to acknowledge CODEC for providing facilities and facilitators for the training of students and teachers for the school cooperative programme,” Msibi said.

Students representing various Shools Cooperatives had an opportunity to share their experiences and stories to illustrate their success and challenges. Dvokolwako High School, currently with over E41 000 in savings and the leading schools cooperative, shared how they started with E10 monthly savings and increased to E25. With an initial membership of 190 students, members have increased to 205 in recent months. The school cooperative delivers financial reports to its members at the end of each school term and savings are collected every Friday.

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