The Microfinance Support Center (MSC) has approved the application of 12 Emyooga Saccos in Bigiri District to receive an additional seed capital of 20 million shillings for exhibiting better performance.
Emyooga, literally meaning skills, is a presidential initiative on job and wealth creation.
Emyooga program was launched by President Museveni in August 2019 as part of Government’s continuous strategies to transform 68% of Ugandan homesteads from subsistence to market-oriented production.
The initiative targets 18 specialized enterprises namely; Boda Bodas, Women Entrepreneurs, Carpenters, Salon Operators, Taxi Operators, Restaurant Owners, Welders, Market Vendors, Youth Leaders, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Produce Dealers, Mechanics, Tailors, Journalists, Performing Artists, Veterans, Fishermen and Elected Leaders.
The beneficiaries of the program organized themselves in Saccos through which they received seed capital of 30 million shillings with the exception of the Saccos for elected leaders which received 50 million shillings.
The beneficiaries have been calling on government to add them more seed capital, saying that 30 million was insufficient.
Government agreed to add them 20 million, but put a condition that the beneficiaries of the additional seed capital must only be Saccos that have exhibited good performance in terms of savings and loan recoveries.
On Thursday, the Zonal Manager for Emyooga program in Busoga sub region, Nduho Mugyenyi announced that 12 Saccos had been approved to receive the additional seed capital.
“The Saccos complained that the seed capital received was not enough, and asked for more funds. So far, 12 applications have been received for the good performing Emyooga Saccos, and they have been approved. They are only awaiting disbursement,” said Mugyenyi.
Mugenyi was informing the Minister of State for Microfinance, Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo who was monitoring the performance of the program in Bigiri District.
Bugiri District is made up of three Constituencies; Bukoli North, Bukoli Central and Bugiri Municipality.
A total of 54 Saccos were formed in Bigiri District. The 54 Saccos are made up of 424 Associations.
Some of the Emyooga Sacco leaders in Bugiri district presenting their performance reports to Minister Kasolo.
The District received a total of 1.68 billion shillings as seed capital from Microfinance Support Center (MSC) which is responsible for implementation and supervision of the program.
The Saccos in the district have made savings worth 900 million.
Mugenyi informed the Minister that Saccos have disbursed loans worth 2.7 billion shillings.
“The amount of money that has been lent out by Saccos to Associations is over 2.7 billion shillings. But as I read this, Hon Minister, the biggest challenge that Bugiri is facing is loan recovery. Loan recovery is very low. We also have a challenge of multiple borrowers. They borrow money from different Emyooga Saccos, and their aim is to not pay back. However, we are doing everything possible to ensure the money is recovered. Whoever borrowed this money must pay back. We are going to work with the Commercial Officer and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to make sure this money is recovered, and lent out to others,” Mugyenyi said.
“We also have a challenge of poor savings culture. We are however not relaxing on teaching them the benefits of savings,” he added.
The Bugiri RDC, Ramadhan Walugembe pledged to use his authority to ensure that whoever borrowed money for Emyooga, pays back.
“All that has been read here, the challenge is recovery. When you borrow money and repay, another one benefits by taking a loan as well. This means that the program will benefit all, not a few. There is a challenge that when one gets money for Emyooga, they resort to marry a second woman. Emyooga is a government development program, and its main goal is to pull you people out of poverty. It is not marrying women. One of the roles of an RDC is to monitor government programs, including Emyooga. I will move with CAO to monitor this program. So, inform those who have refused to pay that we are coming,” he said.
Emyooga program beneficiaries in Bugiri district discussing their report as they prepared to present it to Minister Kasolo on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Mugyenyi informed the Minister that Microfinance Support Center audited the Emyooga Saccos, adding that the Saccos are preparing to hold their Annual General Meetings.
He further stressed that MSC has conducted refresher trainings for the Sacco leaders and political leaders so that they understand the program.
Mugenyi noted that various trainings on mindset change, credit management among others have been conducted.
The Emyooga program beneficiaries in Bugiri district decried lack of banks in the District where to keep their money. They said the only Bank, Finance Trust Bank which had a branch in Bigiri town, shifted to Iganga.
The beneficiaries therefore said moving to Iganga to Bank the money has become extremely challenging.
Mugenyi in response said Centenary Bank recently opened up a branch in Bigiri, and informed the Minister that MSC is working to have all accounts belonging to Emyooga Saccos transferred to Centenary Bank.
However, Minister Kasolo advised Emyooga beneficiaries to use Agent Banking to bank their money.
“Leaders who are here, you need to sensitize the population how the country is moving. Some things are simple but you make them difficult. Parliament passed Agent Banking [Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2015]. You don’t need a Bank to bank your money. One of you should go to the bank, and apply to be a Bank agent in Bugiri. He/she can apply to various Banks, and they become an agent of multiple banks. Whoever wants to make any transaction does so through that Agent. This is easier than going to the banking hall to make a transaction. You don’t need to travel to Iganga to bank the money,” said Minister Kasolo.
Meanwhile, the Minister urged the people of Bugiri to engage in daily income generating activities if they are to get of poverty.