Chama time: A guide to chamas from a serial chama founder

My mother has always been busy on weekends. I find this strange because weekends for me are more laid back, Netflix and chill kind of vibe. Weekends are days to unwind and reflect on the past week, plan for the new week to come and occasionally recover from a Friday night out with friends, but well, not for my mom. Weekends for her are chama time. And I say chama time with the same enthusiasm Michael power announces Guinness time! (For the young generation, Michael power was the badass protagonist in the ‘brings out the power in you’, Guinness adverts). It is a new kind of excitement that I have just recently developed

A few years ago, I would have said the word chama (Investment group) with some sort of disdain because chamas for me, and for most of us really, was something for women, especially church going women (my mom is a church elder, bless the lord. Amen). However, I am a big endorser of chamas now, more than I was four years ago. It was also four years ago that I joined my first chama, after of course witnessing the power of pooling funds, and well the fat envelopes at my graduation party, courtesy of my mom’s many chamas, did not hurt.

Sad to say, my first chama did not really work out mainly because my then boyfriend and I were the main founding fathers, and trust, if we had any disagreement, chama time for that month/week would be put on hold. Nevertheless, being in that chama, which was sometimes a merry-go-round sometimes an investment group, afforded my friends and I the opportunity to go to amazing events (Sepetuka, Hakuna matata), visit the latest joints around town, go for random road trips and equip our closets with the trendiest mitumba (second-hand Clothing) fashion. We were living our best lives. 

A new look at Investment groups

Over the years, I have started and also become part of many investment groups (chama time) and have garnered invaluable experience on the art of starting, running and optimizing fully the benefits of the same. So why should you join a chama? My biggest motivator for getting into a chama has always been to maximize on investment opportunities. By pooling funds, you are able to achieve more as a group than you would alone. As a young millennial, I had always wanted to supply booze in an event (don’t ask, now that I think about it I really don’t know why). My second chama helped me achieve this goal, as outrageous as it may be. A bunch of my friends and I, formed an investment chama, pooled funds, bought numerous cans of beers and sold them at some event in machakos (hint hint) and made a pretty penny. We were blowing money fast. Financial management and security is also a great motivator for joining an investment group. When you are in a Chama, the fear of failing and fear of other risks which prevents you from venturing into investing, turns into a thing of the past. Chamas assure one of financial security and a guarantee of return on investment. 

We were blowing money fast.

Chamas greatly serve as a source of Social and moral support.  A Chama can be a networking opportunity to make new business acquaintances and make long-term friends. Weirdly enough, three of my closest friends, I met via chamas. Not to forget, there’s the relief of spreading risk. When you invest in a Chama, you conduct investments as a group. Therefore, you do not have to take the risk of an investment on your own as you have multiple shoulders to help out in carrying the burden.

Making your Investment group work for you

 How then do you ensure the success of your chama? In my previous experience, three things have worked for me. First is to ensure that you choose the right members…by all means leave your boyfriend out of it if you’re anything like me. Get like-minded individuals who share the same investment goals as yourself, hold an aligned vision to yours and share the same values. This will prevent unnecessary friction and create an optimal environment for your chama to thrive. It is also important to have clearly defined objectives covering the purpose of the chama, what you want to achieve with it, how to achieve it and what is required of members to ensure the same is met. This ensures everyone is focused on the same goal. 

Finally, rules, rules, rules! You know what they say, rules are made to be broken, well not these ones. I am not a big fan of rules, but rules are sacred to chamas as I have come to painfully acknowledge. They help people understand what is expected of them and what will happen if they violate the rules. The rules can give guidelines on when and how much to contribute, defaulting on payments, late payments, attendance of meetings and other aspects that will ensure that the chama operations run smoothly.

Hot tip: For effective management of your chama, let Tingg groups work for you. I am obsessed with this platform. It is safe, fast, transparent and secure. It’s made it easier for me to make my contributions with no hassle as it has multiple options for instant sending and transferring of money including MPesa, Airtel money and mobile banking accounts. My favorite bit has to be that it has enabled our Chama to have access to real-time tracking and updating of contributions, pledges and balances. Data privacy is on point and User data is encrypted and never shared to third parties. You also get timely reminders and notifications to avoid late payments that attract member fines. The platform is accessible on web, USSD and mobile channels. 

That’s it from me. I have now, therefore, given you the power to create chama time and thrive. Try out this new trend to investment groups and feel free to share your motivation and what works for your chama and what doesn’t… also to enjoy the convenience of Tingg groups click to download the App.


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