Thousands of welfare beneficiaries will soon be able to learn how to avoid many financial pitfalls thanks to the determination of an organisation which has seen large numbers of its beneficiaries suffering the devastating consequences of having had dealings with unscrupulous money lenders and creditors and decided to do something constructive about it.

“Money – both the lack thereof as well as the proper use of the little that is available to them – pose huge challenges for the people we serve; ie vulnerable people with disabilities who live in previously disadvantaged areas in and around Johannesburg and Soweto,” says Director of the Association for the Physically Disabled Greater Johannesburg, Mrs Rachel Legasa. “At the root of the problem is the lack of financial know-how of our beneficiaries.

“Until recently we’ve done what we could with the limited resources available to us… Although most have not had any formal training, our Social Workers and Home-based Caregivers have always taken it upon themselves to assist our beneficiaries to manage their finances by helping them to draft a basic budget and also ensuring that family members do not abuse their disability grants.

“In cases where family members are suspected of not cooperating, caregivers insist on receiving receipts of purchases so that they can get proof that essentials, such as groceries, have been bought with the grant money. In cases of extreme abuse – which can also lead to physical abuse of the beneficiary – we call on the South African Police Services to intervene.

“But, with a growing concern about the increasing incidences of financial exploitation of our beneficiaries – especially by unscrupulous machonisas (loan sharks), we realised that we had to do more to help and protect our beneficiaries.

“Not having money available to take the desperately needed informal financial training that we have been providing to our thousands of beneficiaries through the years to the next level, we approached Experian and we are extremely grateful to them that they have provided us with the funding we needed.

“Experian – a company which in 2016 (for the third year running) were named one of the ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ by Forbes magazine, stepped up and provided us with the money needed to develop training material which will not only provide a basic understanding of personal finances to around 6 500 people, but also empower them to manage their finances in a responsible way.

“If our beneficiaries are going to experience financial freedom, they are going to need to know how to work with money; whether this is a State Grant, money from an income generating project, or the salary they receive once they are formally employed. That’s why we are so happy that we can make a contribution to their future well-being,” says Mrs Legasa. (ENDS)

For further information: Mrs Rachel Legasa, Director of the Association for the Physically Disabled – Greater Johannesburg: rachell@apdjhb.co.za. Tel office 011-646-8331. Cell 082-564-5852.