Masindi Municipality Councillors irked by delayed disbursement of Emyooga funds.

Councillors from Masindi municipality are disappointed by the delayed disbursement of over Shs 500m meant to fund more than 10 Emyooga SACCOs in Masindi Municipality.

The Councillors, who expressed their discontent at a full Council sitting last Thursday, reported that the SACCOs have received the money on their accounts but are as yet unable to access it.

“I want the leader of government business to tell this Council the cause of this delay,” demanded Fatuma Nyangoma, the Councillor representing Bigando Ward.

However, Deputy Mayor, Zaina Byenkya, said she had no clear information on the matter and asked the Town Clerk to respond to the query.

In his response, Deo Kabugo, the Masindi Municipality Town Clerk blamed the delay on challenges with Post Bank, in which the SACCOs’ accounts are held.

“The money is on the SACCOs’ accounts and people should remain calm. When the issues are settled members will receive the money,” Kabugo assured the meeting.


The delay has affected over 50 SACCOs across Masindi district and frustrated hundreds of their members.

“The money is on our accounts, but whenever we want to access it in Post Bank, we are turned down. What is the motive behind this delay?” wondered one SACCO member who spoke to theCooperator on condition of anonymity.

Two weeks ago, Moses Kalyegira the Masindi District Commercial Officer told theCooperator that 54 Emyooga SACCOs had received Shs 1.6bn but members could not access it until their SACCOs had presented a certificate of registration.

He explained that the requirement to present the certificates, which was supposed to have been done prior to account opening, had been waived temporarily at the time, with the understanding that the SACCOs would acquire them before accessing funds.

Speaking at the time, Kalyegira intimated:

“The SACCOs were given a go-ahead to open bank accounts without certificates of registration because the State minister for Microfinance, Harunah Kyeyune Kasolo, wrote to the banks requesting them to allow the SACCOs to open the accounts without them,” and pledged that the SACCOs’ Managers would soon be able to access their money.

Registered; still no money

However, whereas the certificates of registration were issued two weeks ago, no SACCO has been able to access the money so far.

Earlier on Wednesday, different leaders, including the Masindi district RDC, the Manager Post Bank where the money is being held, the officials from the Microfinance support centre, Emyooga SACCO leaders and other stakeholders, held a closed-door meeting on how to handle the delay.

According to impeccable sources who were in attendance, the meeting was assured that SACCOs would soon be able to access the money.

Emyooga is Presidential Cluster Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) and it was launched in the Bunyoro sub-region by State Minister for Microfinance, Harunah Kasolo Kyeyune last year.

At the time, the Minister revealed that government would inject Shs 620m into each constituency to fund businesses under 19 selected clusters that include Boda-boda riders, Salon Owners, Carpenters, Taxi Operators, Welders, Market Vendors, Journalists, Performing Artists and Mechanics, among others.

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Kikuube: 36 SACCOs receive Emyooga funds

Members of 36 Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) in Kikuube district have received certificates from the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC), enabling them to access over Shs1 bn that was earlier wired to their accounts under the Presidential Initiative on Job and Wealth Creation (Emyooga).

Racheal Kobugabe, the Business Development Service Officer, MSC, handed out the certificates to the SACCOs’ members Tuesday at Buhimba sub-county headquarters and at Kabwoya primary school.

Kikuube District Community Development Officer, Annette Kabahaguzi, says that the 36 SACCOs were created out of 826 Emyooga groups. 18 of the SACCOs are from Buhaguzi East Constituency, while the rest are from Buhaguzi Constituency.

The 36 SACCOs will share a total of Shs 1.12 bn worth of Emyooga funds.

Speaking during the handover of the certificates to the beneficiaries, Kobugabe noted that the funds have been on the SACCO accounts since last year, but were inaccessible to members before getting they had received the certificates.

She noted that Youth Action for social, political, and economic development, Operation Wealth Creation, Microfinance Support Centre, and the UPDF will be responsible for the monitoring and implementation of the Emyooga programs.

She added that each SACCO will be required to pay 8% interest on the money received to the government per year.

Kobugabe warned SACCO leaders against unscrupulous people who may infiltrate their SACCOs and associations to cheat the members.

“Nobody should come out of your association and tell you to pay money before you can access these funds. The government, through MSC, paid for passbooks and bylaws in order to expedite the process of releasing the funds. The only money you are supposed to pay is for your savings or shares,” she advised.

Amuran Tumusime, the Resident District Commissioner, Kikuube district, commended the government for the Emyooga initiative, which he said will help citizens to create jobs and fight against poverty.

However, he challenged the beneficiaries to put the money to proper use.

“This money is for helping you to develop yourselves and move out of poverty, so when you get it, don’t use the money for alcohol, weddings, buying clothes, or marrying second wives,” warned Amurani.

Steven Itaza, the MP-elect for Kikuube district, also called upon the beneficiaries to invest in enterprises that will enable them to multiply the funds such as commercial farming, goat rearing, and boosting on their already existing businesses.

While most beneficiaries expressed excitement about the capital that they hope will help them to boost their businesses and create jobs, others complained that the Shs 30m given to each Emyooga association is very little, given the number of members in some associations.

Fred Wairima, the Chairperson of Buhaguze East Produce Dealers that has 1800 members, wondered how he would distribute Shs 30m among all the members.

“All these members need at least to share some of this money. How will I distribute 30 million shillings to this number,” he demanded and called on the government to allot more money to the larger Emyooga associations.

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Poor management to blame for collapsing Lango SACCOs-Expert

Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (Saccos) in Lango Sub-region are collapsing due to mismanagement, experts have said.

Speaking during a 5-day training of Acan-pe-Kun SACCO members on Thursday, the Chief Executive Officer of Ngetta Tropical Holdings, Paul Omara, said that, so far, five prominent SACCOs in Lango have collapsed in the past two years, and more others are on the verge of failure.

Those that have collapsed include Abutabera Youth SACCO in Apac district, Aloi Women SACCO in Alebtong district, and Dokolo United SACCO Limited in Dokolo district, among others.

Some of the co-operatives have also failed to repay the Shs 198m that they borrowed from the Government through the Microfinance Support Centre, while members are in court seeking a refund of their savings and shares in billions of shillings.

But Omara, an Economist and former banker pointed out poor management, political influence and conflicts between the SACCO boards and managers as major issues tearing SACCOs apart.

He noted that oftentimes the SACCO Managers are responsible for their collapse because they embezzle members’ money.

“When you are electing board members, you choose the uneducated and then employ well-educated managers and other staff who manipulate the system and steal all the money. The board cannot supervise them because they do not know anything,” Omara argued.

Philip Otim, the Apac District Commercial Officer concurred with Omara’s diagnosis, adding in such cases it is difficult to prosecute the culprits.

“There are many managers who have run off with cooperatives’ money in this district. It is hard to prosecute them because they manipulate the board, banking on the members’ limited education. There are so many such cases in court,” Otim said.

Acan-pe-Kun SACCO Limited was opened in 2011 by farmers in Chegere Sub-county. The SACCO, which has a loan portfolio of Shs 975m, operates on its own piece of land and office premises at Ololango trading centre, Chegere, Apac district.

Allan Okii, the cooperative’s Chairperson, says they have 473 members who are committed to the aspirations of the SACCO.

He appealed to the government to provide cooperative societies with low-interest agricultural loans to enhance their production and alleviate poverty.

“The major goal of SACCOs is to promote access to finance, especially among the poor who are actively engaged in any economic activity. The government should extend soft loans to SACCOs with the interest of as low as 1 per cent to help eradicate poverty,” he said.

In June last year, the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said the government was considering strengthening SACCOs in rural areas in order to fight household poverty.

“We are studying how to strengthen the SACCOs because the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) as measures to reduce poverty have made little impact,” Dr Rugunda said.

The Prime Minister said the YLP and UWEP funds had been abused to the extent that the beneficiaries had failed to repay the money yet they are supposed to be revolving funds.

He added that despite the government injecting billions of funds into the programmes, little has been achieved on the ground.

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Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative targets coffee processing machine

Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited in Bwijanga Sub-county, Masindi district is in the process of acquiring a coffee processing machine that will enable them to add value to their coffee.

According to Benedicto Ssensaga the Chairperson, Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, the processing machine will be established in Kikingura village Kitamba parish Bwijanga sub-county.

“We are now going to benefit from our coffee because we going to add value to it instead of selling raw materials. We have enough coffee to feed the machine, and I am optimistic that our economic status is to change due to this investment,” he explained.

Ssensaga says that the members of the cooperative have a combined acreage of over 500 acres of coffee, a figure he predicts will rise even higher since they are still admitting more members.

MAAIF support

Ssensaga also revealed to theCooperator that the cooperative has secured the support of the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) towards its goal of acquiring the coffee processor.

“Last year, we were told that we would be supported under the Agriculture Cluster Development Program (ACDP). Under the matching grant, we were asked to contribute 33% of the price of the machine, which amounts to 75 million shillings, and the government promised to put up the remaining 230 million shillings,” said Ssensaga.

He explained that the coop’s contribution will be made in form of materials and land.

“We already have the land and have bought the necessary building materials,” he said, adding that they are now waiting for the relevant district officials to come and assess the situation on the ground.

“In the meantime, internally we are mobilizing our members to ensure that they solicit for the required money to bring the machine to our cooperative.”

Simon Wairima, the Cooperative Secretary, revealed that some of the necessities have been acquired, including a Tax Identification Number, Pro forma invoices from the machine supplier, and developing the farmers’ register.

Last Thursday, the concerned district officials and the cooperative’s leadership had a planning meeting on how to proceed.

About Bwijanga Coffee Coop

Founded in 2019, Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited already has over 1000 active members drawn from the entire Bwijanga sub-county.

The same cooperative introduced a saving scheme last year that requires every member to buy a minimum of two shares, each at Shs 30,000.

Bwijanga Coffee Cooperative Society Limited is one of four active coffee cooperatives in Masindi district, the others being Karujubu Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, Pakanyi Coffee Cooperative Society Limited, and Alimugonza Coffee Cooperative Society Limited.

Coffee growing has picked up significantly throughout Masindi district following the distribution of coffee seedlings to farmers by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) under Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

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Locals protest Lango Cooperative Union land lease to German investor

Residents of Angayiki Village in Chawente Sub County in Kwania district, numbering 130 are protesting the lease of 1,165 hectares of land by Lango Cooperative Union to Smaz Group, a German investor.

theCooperator recently reported about the lease agreement between LCU and the German investor.

In a letter dated 8th of January, 2021, and addressed to LCU Chairman, Maxwell Akora, Okwir, and Company Advocates, acting on behalf of Among Agnes and 130 others, protested the proposed giveaway, saying the land in question does not belong to the Union.

Contested ownership

Ownership of the land in question has been in contention for more than a decade now.

In 2011, Lango Cooperative Union took the 131 residents of Angayiki to court, accusing them of encroaching its land at Angayiki which measures 1, 165 hectares, a matter still pending before Lira High Court Magistrate, Jeneva Natukunda.

Daniel Odongo of Okwir and Company Advocates says the resolution made by Lango Cooperative Union on the 26th of June, 2020, to lease the land to the investor was in disregard of the ongoing court process. The case is next due for hearing on the 2nd of March, 2021.

“The leadership of the Union should first remain patient. Why are they leasing out the land, yet the matter is still pending in court? Let court handle the matter,” Odongo said.

Moris Obua, one of the defendants and a resident of Angayiki, claims that the land in question is customary land.

“That land does not belong to the Lango Cooperative Union; that land belongs to us. It is customary land that we inherited from our forefathers; that is why we are still pursuing the case up to now, waiting for the court pronouncement,” he said.

In the protest letter seen by our reporter, Odongo accuses Akora and others of committing illegality and causing the suffering of over 300 people of Angayiki. He gave Lango Cooperative Union 14 days to revert to them in case it is no longer interested in the matter that it took to court.

However, Maxwell Akora, the Chairman Board of Directors of Lango Cooperative Union and also the Maruzi County Member of Parliament, told theCooperator that the land in question is already vacant because the said locals had already been evicted from it.

As a result, he said, said the Union may consider withdrawing the court case and proceed with the leasing process.

“Yes, we earlier ran to court but the Microfinance Support Center evicted the locals, so we are now thinking of removing the case from court and going on with leasing out the land to an investor,” he said in an interview.

Members of the community say they suffered a loss in 2016 when the Microfinance Support Center destroyed their houses and properties to attach the land over a Shs 2bn debt owed to it by Lango Cooperative Union. However, an injunction was later ordered against the eviction exercise.

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Excess rain blamed for low cotton production in Kasese

Cooperatives and farmers dealing in cotton in Kasese district have decried the lower than expected production of the cash crop as a result of unusually high rainfall experienced last season.

Cotton farmers who spoke to theCooperator said the excessive rain led to a delay in the cotton harvest in Kasese, thereby negatively affecting the quality of the crop and ultimately resulted in reduced prices.

According to Adrian Katwetegeke, the in-charge of the Uganda Cotton Development Authority at Nyakatonzi Cooperative Union in Kasese, over the last two seasons the price of cotton has dropped from between Shs. 30,000 – 35,000 a barrel to Shs 20,000 currently due climatic conditions.

“Cotton is one of the crops that require a little rain, but for the last two years, Kasese and Uganda, in general, have been experiencing too much rain, leading to low production,” Katwetegeke noted.

Moreover, he added, the overabundant rainfall affects farmers’ ability to spray their crop on time.

“Spraying must be done on time in order to have the desired effect. Our farmers often wait to be told that their gardens are due for spraying, especially when it is raining a lot. By the time they are ready to do it, it is too late for them to save the gardens.”

Enock Nyabwangu, a farmer revealed that cotton needs a moderate amount of water for optimal growth. He says a good cotton plant should produce twenty or more flowers per season.

“However, this season, each plant has only 10-15 flowers. This means that the profit will be less than what we used to get due to climatic conditions ‘, Nyabwangu said.

Nyabwangu and Elias Muhingo, another farmer, advocated for the establishment of irrigation schemes in order to increase cotton production in Kasese and Rubirizi districts.

“Irrigation would help farmers plant cotton during the dry season and reduce the dependence on nature,” the duo said.

Kasese district established a mini irrigation scheme in Katholu in order to help cotton farmers produce even during the dry season, but a lot more needs to be done to maximize its benefit to the farmers, according to the district Chairperson Geoffrey Sibendire.

Cotton growing tips

Lilian Kiiza, a Cotton Extension Officer in Kasese, revealed the principles that farmers need to follow if they are to maximize benefits from growing cotton.

“They need to follow five principles,” she stressed. “Ensure early land preparation, then plant, thin, weed, and spray it on time.”

Kiiza also advised farmers to engage extension workers for advisory services, including getting guidance on the correct pesticides and other inputs to use.

“The challenge is that farmers buy pesticides from shops without any advisory services on how and when to apply them, which ends up affecting their crop. They should make use of available extension services for better yields,” she said.

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Kwania district launches Teachers’ SACCO

Kwania district officials have launched a teachers’ savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO).

The SACCO, which will accommodate all 1,074 teachers of primary and secondary public schools in the district, was launched during a recent workshop on financial literacy education organized for headteachers at St. Margaret Primary School in Aduku Town Council.

Members will be required to pay Shs 20,000 in Membership Fee, and also buy shares at Shs 10,000 each.

The SACCO, which was opened with support from Germany NGO, Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC), hopes to inculcate a saving culture among the teachers.

Kwania Resident District Commissioner, Salim Komakech, while presiding over the SACCO’s launch, pledged to support the fledgling society in its growth.

“We are going to do a lot of training to make the SACCO grow, and it will make the district exemplary in the entire Lango,” Komakech pledged.

RDC Komakech also advised the teachers to embrace value addition initiatives and vowed to lobby for funding for such undertakings from donors, ministries, or NGOs.

He encouraged the Teachers’ Union branch officials in the district and the Education Office to work together to popularise the SACCO among teachers in all the schools with the aim of fighting exploitation by financial institutions which he said charge exorbitant interest on loans.

Meanwhile, Andrew Omunu, the Kwania District Education Officer (DEO), urged teachers to decisively implement the resolutions agreed upon in the formation of the SACCO to enable it to expand and succeed.

For his part, Geoffrey Akodo, the Apac district Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) Chairman, cautioned the newly elected SACCO leadership against personalizing the SACCO.

“You are aware that Apac Teachers’ SACCO had a lot of issues. The headteachers who were elected as SACCO leaders personalized it and swindled all the funds disbursed to it by the government. I ask the Kwania Teachers’ SACCO leaders to be more transparent and accountable; don’t personalize the SACCO,” he said.

Akodo also rallied the SACCO members to embrace commercial farming as an alternative source of livelihoods rather than depending entirely on their salaries.

The interim committee elected to kickstart the SACCO’s operations includes Patrick Odongo, the Headteacher of Aboko Primary School as Chairperson, deputized by Claire Awor, Headteacher of Aporwegi Primary School.

Richard Kenneth Ayo, the Headteacher of Punoatar Primary School was voted Treasurer while James Ojok, the Headteacher of Itekiber Primary School, was elected unopposed as the SACCO Secretary.

Other headteachers elected as members of the interim committee include; Toga Francis, Joy Okello, Molly Ajwang, William Okok, Sylvester Omara, and Robert Odur Okello.

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Advocacy platform needed for Agriculture sector post-COVID- NAAC

The National Alliance of Agricultural Co-operatives (NAAC) has called for the formation of a nationwide agricultural advocacy platform to bridge the gap between the government and the other actors in Uganda’s agricultural sector.

The call was made at a recent consultative meeting organized by the NAAC, which was attended by, among others, representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, and Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives.

During the meeting, the national level co-operative union shared the findings of a survey it conducted to describe and analyze the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the relationships between market actors within selected value chains.

The resulting report identified and measured resilience strategies adopted by different market actors following lockdown measures rolled out by governments across the globe in response to the pandemic.

Connecting actors in the Agric sector

Key among recommendations on how to strengthen the functionality and inclusiveness of markets in the wake of the pandemic was the establishment of a National Agricultural Advocacy Platform.

The platform will provide a permanent space for sector actors to engage the Government of Uganda and other stakeholders with policy proposals to develop resilient Agri-market systems that can mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses while facilitating inclusive growth.

One of the participants, Joseo Tegyeza, a Commissioner from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), emphasized the need to adapt pragmatically to the post-pandemic reality without sacrificing service delivery.

“We need to pin COVID-19 squarely by finding ways to work around it because it’s the only way forward. We shouldn’t use it as an excuse not to deliver,” he said.

For his part, Dr. Moki M. Abubaker, Commissioner for Policy Development and Capacity Building at OPM, called for partnerships among the various entities saying, “that it is the only way to reach out to all stakeholders, especially the farmers.”

The survey’s sample comprised of 886 Ugandan farmers (35% female) and 470 businesses, and included traders, transporters, processors, and financiers from Ntugamo, Mubende, Kasese, Bushenyi, Kiruhura, Ibanda, Sembabule, Wakiso, Lira, Gulu, and Tororo, to mention but a few.

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Eastern Kyoga Multipurpose Cooperative members join ACDP two years after launch

Members of Eastern Kyoga Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society (EKMCS) in Serere district are slowly embracing the Agricultural Cluster Development Project (ACDP), two years after its introduction in the region.

ACDP is a five-year government project that aims to boost on-farm productivity and improve post-harvest handling capabilities for selected agricultural commodities, in chosen areas in the country, by helping farmers acquire agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, tarpaulins and pesticides.

A first-time beneficiary of the scheme is required to contribute 33% of Shs 450,000 in the first season (Shs 148,500) while the government tops up the remaining 67% of the cost of the inputs. In the second season, the beneficiary and government split the cost equally and each pay 50% of the cost of inputs. In the third season, the government pays 33%, and the beneficiary covers the rest.

Once burnt…

However, although the ACDP was introduced in 2018, members of the Eastern Kyoga cooperative only started embracing it in 2020 because of a bad experience many had had with a cryptocurrency venture called E-Coin.

theCooperator has established that, in 2016, the cooperative’s then 20 members were persuaded to invest in E-Coin, with the promise that they would reap Shs 150,000 per week.

“Some members of the cooperative even sold their animals to participate in the E-coin venture and ended up losing millions of shillings,” Stephen Epau, the Manager of EKMCS and Chairperson, Omagara Rice Growers, said in an interview.

“Because of that, members became sceptical of any program requiring them to pay money to benefit,” he said by way of explanation of the initial resistance to ACDP which is premised on partial farmer investment.

Warming to ACDP

Nevertheless, Epau said the cooperative’s members, who have grown to 100 in the past year, started enrolling for ACDP after a series of sensitisation outreaches.

As a result of the sensitisation efforts, two farmers’ groups- Omagara Rice Growers and Agurur Cassava Growers- were formed, with 70 members enrolled for ACDP.

“In a day we can register at least five new members. But I believe that when the information spreads, we shall register more. Currently, more than 70 people have finalized the registration process and are just waiting to be availed with the inputs,” Epau said.

Steven Omilgor, a cassava farmer, disclosed that he was conned of Shs 1.5m through the E-coin project, and it took time for him to believe in ACDP.

” But I am now grateful that I joined ACDP because I was able to plant 5 acres of cassava last season-more than I have ever planted before- because of the inputs received under the project,” he said.

Benjamin Odeke, another cassava farmer who joined the cooperative last year, said joining ACDP has made his work easier.

“Much as I have oxen [for ploughing], they cannot do a lot of work in the shortest time possible. But with ACDP, I can use tractors and plough large acres in a short time. The provision of tarpaulins has also made me give clean produce,” Odeke said.

Jennifer Icodu, the Secretary of Agurur Cassava Growers, told theCooperator that she has received 8 bags of cassava cuttings and a tarpaulin, in addition to having 2 acres of her land ploughed

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Unlicensed SACCOs risk closure, accused of preying on savers

Members of unlicensed Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) are at risk of losing their hard-earned savings, Philip Otim, the Apac District Commercial Officer, has warned.

Available figures indicate that there are at least 14,000 licensed SACCOs in the country, while over 5,000 others are unlicensed and therefore operating illegally, without the knowledge of the regulator.

Otim issued the warning while handing over the ‘Probationary Certificate of Existence’ to Abulomogo Maize Farmers’ and Credit Cooperative Society in Kidiani parish, Chegere Sub County, in Apac district on Thursday.

Abulomogo is one of ten SACCOs that were recently granted restricted licenses by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to operate for six months ending in June this year.

Otim said that the bureau is in the process of cracking down on illegal SACCOs in order to safeguard savers from unscrupulous individuals.

“Notice is given to public and private entities that engage in any form of deposit-taking or SACCO business transactions with SACCOs that are not licensed: they are doing so at their own peril, and we will not be held accountable if the SACCOs disappear with their money,” he said.

He added that the law regulating the operation of Saccos makes it a criminal offense for any person to engage in SACCO business without a valid license from the authority.

“The has regulator cautioned such SACCOs, saying they face criminal proceedings for operating illegally and endangering members’ money. Those operating illegally face a fine of up to Shs 500, 000 or imprisonment for three years,” he added.

David Odora the Chegere Sub County male Councillor tasked SACCO leaders to ensure that their entities are quickly registered with the Registrar of Cooperatives to avoid risks. He also cautioned the public against saving and borrowing with unregistered SACCOs.

“How would you risk your money with unlicensed Saccos? Don’t throw your money in the rubbish pit by saving with some of these SACCOs that are not known by the government,” he said.

The Apac District Operation Wealth Creation Coordinator Col. Godfrey Okello appealed to Abulomogo’s members to be innovative and identify other income-generating projects to promote the progress of their SACCO.

“Save, borrow, pay, and above all think of other business ventures to develop your SACCO further,” he advised.

He also cautioned them to eschew the mismanagement of public funds and instead embrace transparency and accountability.

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