Grocery clubs mushroom as consumers try to hedge against tough economy

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

GROCERY and kitchen utensils buying clubs are mushrooming in Bulawayo as locals continue to exploit various innovative ideas for shock absorbers in a tough economic environment.

With the economy continuing to plunge into the abyss, the clubs are one of the survival methods enterprising consumers have adopted to feed their families.

Within the initiatives, consumers form groups among likeminded individuals who then make financial contributions towards acquiring groceries and utensils often in bulk.

Depending on affordability, club members make contributions starting from as little as US$2 to as high as US$100 over an agreed period.

Narrated one Miriam Nkala, “Grocery is very expensive to buy in shops these days.  In order to save money and cut costs, we formed a grocery buying club in July this year.

“We buy our goods in bulk from wholesalers which is cheaper that buying single items in retail shops.”

Nkala chairs Little Angels, a Bulawayo based grocery saving club which comprises five young women.

To illustrate the effectiveness of the idea, Nkala said, the club acquires a 750 ml six pack of washing liquid at US$10, 36 from a wholesale, meaning a single unit costs US$1.73.

However, if acquired from a retail shop, the same unit of washing liquid would cost US$ 3, 50.

She said of the scheme, “You can clearly see that this scheme is cheaper. In our club, we also buy and share kitchen utensils after every year.

“We buy some of our products in South Africa where they are far much cheaper than in Zimbabwe.”

said Nkala.

She said members contributed US$30 every month.

The leader of Mzilikazi based Vukani Vafazi grocery saving club, Miriam Sigogo also spoke glowingly of the savings cooperative.

“I owe all the property in my house to my club. Through my club which is comprised of women from my church, I have managed to buy a deep freezer, sofas, four plate stove and a kitchen unit. Each member contributes US$35 every month,” said Sigogo who is a hairdresser.

Men, equally, have formed or joined the clubs.

“Our club is not necessarily a grocery club, but we contribute money each week which we will share among members at the end of the year. Members then use the money to buy food and spoil themselves during the festive season. Some use the money for school fees,” said Simon Shumba, a member of the Royal Savings Club.

The clubs have apparently bridged the social divisions within communities as both lower and middle class groups are free to join provided they met the financial requirements.

The clubs also provide platforms for the members to share their social, political and economic experiences.