The A-Z of table banking

With the ever rising cost of living, people are looking for alternative ways to help them meet their needs and invest in income-generating activities. Table banking has become one of the main ways that women are using to empower themselves and take on issues facing the home.

My group is planning to introduce this concept to our chama and we carried out some research to know what was in store for us. According to the testimonies of most women, they have been able to take their children to school and universities, start businesses, buy land and build their own houses.

So how does this concept work? Basically, table banking is a group funding method where members save and borrow directly from their savings in either short-term or long-term loans.  Each table banking group meets once a month and at this meeting members place their savings and loan repayments on a table.

Table banking in Kenya is done through chamas and this means that a group of women will meet after every month or two weeks and after conducting their main business which may be a merry go round or collecting money for buying food, they contribute some money to save as well.

Most chamas do not have a standard amount that members can save, everyone is allowed to save the amount of money that they are comfortable saving.

Once the money is collected, members present their requests for loans and the money is shared among them. The beauty of this concept is that the interests required when repaying the loan is low and can go as low as 1% which is music to the ear of any borrower.

You can borrow a short –term or long term loan as well depending on how established your chama is and how much money has been collected.

In most cases, the loans are given on a first come first served basis because members might really want the money in droves.

In other instances, the members may be afraid to ask for the loans, thereby defeating the purpose of introducing the concept to the chama in the first place. During such times, the members are urged to take up loans so that they can grow the profits from the interests to be shared among the members.


The money collected at the end of the year is shared among the chama members according to the shares they have been contributing to the table banking concept.

Some chamas will give each woman her shares first then divide the profits accruing from the interests according to the number of shares they had. Other chamas opt for dividing the profits equally among themselves.

Sometimes it can be difficult raising huge amounts of money to help women come with bigger projects. The meager savings may not enable them to borrow the huge amounts they may desire. In such instances, a chama may have to feed into a larger organization that may help them attain their dreams.

Currently, the Joyful Women Organisation JOYWO helps such chamas by allowing them to feed into it and they offer loans to the members. Other commercial entities such as also help such smaller organizations.

Basic rules of the table banking system

  1. Ensure that you only introduce the system to trustworthy members and this means that you have to conduct due diligence about a person before letting them join the chama. Members should be people well-known to you from church, colleagues at work, neighbors in the estate or in the village or family members. You do not want to have a situation where a member takes off with money belonging to other members.
  2. It is also important to have a chama constitution that will govern both the chama and the table banking system. The constitution should give precise information about the group: When the group was formed, the members of the group, nature (Business) aim of the group, the officials of the group and the rules and regulations of the group.
  3. When giving out large loans members may be required to give something as security and here, it is important to set boundaries to ensure that people do not lose more than they contributed which may defeat the purpose of coming up the group.
  4. Some people may default on their loans for one reason or another and this can be very tricky for the chama and the table banking system. In such cases, you should have a plan which may also involve keeping the security they had provided to sell and recover the loan. Involving the authorities might be your best option in instances where the person had not provided any security for the loan they requested.
  5. Discipline is very important for the table banking concept to work for your chama. With discipline, everybody will play their role and things will run smoothly even if they will not be perfect.


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