New Sacco to give out Cheap loans in Hoima

The newly launched KASSOBA SACCO is on course to open with offers of cheap loans to members of Kabalega Secondary School Old Boys Association (KASSOBA).

The official launch was on April 3 at Kolping hotel in the western Hoima town.

According to Samuel Mugisa, the interim chairperson of KASSOBA SACCO, the old boys resolved to form the SACCO in 2018 during the annual general meeting.

“The SACCO was supposed to kick off in 2020 but we were disorganized by COVID-19. But when we met again in March this year we resolved to start,” Mugisa said.

He said the SACCO has 90 registered members already and hopes to shore up the numbers to 300 members within the next two years.

“Members are buying each share at Shs 20,000. Saving has also commenced, we hope to have saved at least Shs 500 million in two years. This is going to be the ladder to the members’ economic development,” Mugisa said.

“Many of our boys have lost properties due to the high interest rates from banks and financial institutions but I am optimistic that with this SACCO, our members will be able to access loans at an affordable interest rate. We want our SACCO to be vibrant like the (army’s) Wazalendo SACCO,” he stressed.

Mugisa said in the future they will allow outsiders to access conditional loans.

“Worldwide SACCOs have been the engine of development and many people have prospered through them,” he added.

In a speech at the SACCO launching, John Tumusiime, the district commercial officer of Hoima, took members through the process of forming, sustaining, and developing a SACCO.

“If your SACCO is to move from one level to another, you have to be with a transparent leadership and also ensure that record-keeping and accountability are key. Also never leave the entire burden to the leadership. You members always participate in the day-to-day SACCO activities,” he noted.

The old boys also elected an interim committee to steer the SACCO. Samuel Mugisa is the chairperson deputized by David Muhumuza. Charles Baisa is the treasurer, Alfred Kusiima is the general secretary and Ronald Murungi is a mobilizer.

KASSOBA, which formed the SACCO was started by the old boys of Kabalega Secondary School in the western district of Masindi in the 1980s.

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Long-dormant sacco in Masindi bounces back

A long-dormant savings and cooperative credit society has been revived.

The Masindi Savings and Cooperative Credit Society Limited has been revived by members after a two-year lull.

The SACCO membership comprises mainly active and retired civil servants of the Masindi district local government.

On April 1, Moses Kalyegira, the Masindi district commercial officer, convened a special general meeting that elected a new board.

Addressing the meeting at the council chambers, Kalyegira said the SACCO had been dormant for two years because the board chairperson resigned under unclear circumstances. After her resignation other board and SACCO members lost interest in the association, Kalyegira said.

“This is a special meeting because the board has failed to perform its duties. I have engaged the former chairperson Ruth Kisakye three times to convene a meeting so she could hand it over officially but in vain. I have decided that I chair this meeting so that the SACCO can put in place a new board to start conducting business because the business couldn’t go on without signatories,” he explained.

Kalyegira said he convened the meeting because he couldn’t just sit and let the SACCO collapse. He wondered why SACCOs of people with little financial knowledge were thriving and theirs full of professionals in finance was limping.

“People have been unable to access services and yet they have money on the SACCO account because board members lost interest. Let’s forget that and start a new chapter today. I have been receiving many complaints from members about their money being idle in the bank and being deducted,” Kalyegira said.

The outgoing board treasurer, Charles Musinguzi, and the vice-chairperson Godfrey Baharagate attended the meeting.

According to Kalyegira, the SACCO, which started in 2003, at one time had about 300 members before those numbers dropped to just 100 active members currently.

“The purpose of its formation was to enhance a saving culture amongst members and to offer loans at a low-interest rate to civil servants,” he noted.

Charles Musinguzi, the outgoing treasurer told members that Shs 20 million was loaned out. He said the SACCO has Shs 6.5 million on the account. He also said there’s a time savings totaled Shs 70 million.

“Some people are willing to pay back our money but they have not done so because we have not been active. This is the time to forget the past and set a new agenda,” Musinguzi said.

He said some monies may be difficult to recover.

“The mode of recovery and saving was an automatic deduction from the salaries. Recovering this money might also be a challenge because some civil servants no longer work with us,” he said.

Elections

During the elections presided over by Moses Kalyegira, Ibrahim Nasur, the senior assistant secretary for the Kyatiri town council, was elected as the board chairperson, Charles Musinguzi, the retired personnel officer, is the new secretary and Patrick Okise, the principal internal auditor, is the treasurer.

Other board members include; Prudence Alituha, the principal fisheries officer, Godfrey Bahemuka, the district community development officer, James Mugoya, the lands officer, and Oliver Mabeho, a teacher.

The supervisory committee has David Baguma, the chief finance officer, as its chairperson while Joseph Kabubi and Mary Birungi were elected as members.

In his inaugural speech, Ibrahim Nasur said, “I am one of the people who had lost interest. This is a SACCO for technocrats. How can it fail?”

“My first agenda is to ensure that people’s money is recovered. I will also follow up to see whether the money deducted automatically for saving and repayment is remitted to the SACCO,” he stressed.

Patrick Okise, the new treasurer, urged people who had lost interest to come back.

“We need to wake up now and revive this SACCO because it can give us loans at a low interest. Every day we are exploited by banks and other financial institutions who give us loans at over 40% interest and yet we can do it ourselves at a low interest. We need to wake up now.”Okise said.

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Cooperative slashes fees to attract new members

To shore up its numbers, Lira Diocese Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited has slashed its membership fee from Shs 50,000 to Shs 30,000 to encourage registration of new members with minimal fees.

In a speech at the recent annual general meeting (AGM) held at the Apostolic Social Centre in Lira City, Cyprian Okello, the cooperative’s vice-chairperson, said many people had failed to register because they couldn’t afford the registration fee of Shs 50,000.

“We are forming the central mobilization committee. We shall ensure that each and every parish forms a mobilization committee that will include the catechist, parish priest, and the key people to strengthen mobilization, we want people everybody to understand the benefit of joining a cooperative,” he said.

So far the cooperative has 150 members. It was formed by Sanctus Lino Wanok, the Bishop of Lira Diocese in 2019, to improve the livelihoods of Christians in the nine districts of the Lango sub-region.

Patrick Vincent Muge, a member of the cooperative, said to succeed, the cooperative should engage only able and willing people to carry out Sacco activities.

Muge also urged the leadership to carry out more mobilization of Sacco members.

Father John Bosco Oryema, a member of Alito Catholic parish was excited by the reduction of the membership fees, saying it will encourage women to participate in the cooperative.

“The reduction will give avenues for women to join the cooperative, most women spend their money on running the day-to-day family affairs but now the fee reduction is an open chance for them to join the cooperate and save money to grow,” he noted.

Rt. Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, the founder of the cooperative, rallied the public to join the cooperative to alleviate poverty.

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic that negatively affected businesses, the time is now for people to head towards a direction that will make them easily assist one another, cooperate in business enterprises and alleviate poverty,” he said.

The man of God nudged the clergy to mobilize the community to join the cooperative to increase household income and improve their livelihoods.

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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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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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Amuru Sugar plantation recruits 400 labourers for urgent sugarcane harvest after fire

At least 400 casual laborers have been urgently recruited and deployed to harvest the sugarcane that survived a wildfire at Amuru Sugar Plantation recently.

Amuru Sugar plantation was gutted by fire on December 27, 2020, leaving 6000 out of 8000 acres of sugarcane destroyed.

Following the tragedy, the proprietors of Atiak Sugar Plantation resolved to recruit 1,000 casual laborers to cut down the remaining 2000 acres of sugarcane so that they are processed into sugar, to avert more losses from similar incidences. The plantation has suffered five fire outbreaks since 2018, leaving the sugar factory with losses worth billions of shillings.

Santa Joyce Laker, the chairperson of Atiak Sugar Plantation Outgrowers Cooperative Society, told theCooperator that so far 400 casual laborers, out of 1000 needed, have been recruited from Amuru, Gulu, and Adjumani districts, and have already started cutting the remaining sugarcane.

“They started working on Saturday and they are coming in shifts. We cannot wait till they are 1000 people to start work,” Laker said.

Laker said the company lost 75 percent of the sugarcane in the plantation to the fire, translating to an Shs 12bn loss.

“An acre of sugarcane yields Shs 2m. So, if you multiply 2m by 6000 you get the picture of the loss,” she said.

Dan Kidega, the Board Chairman of Atiak Sugar plantation, said the company will soon start sensitizing the community on the benefits of the plantation and also recruit vigilantes to control looming fire outbreaks.

In January 2020, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson gave seven strategic recommendations to avert rampant fire outbreaks in the sugar plantation. They include recruiting a community liaison officer, profiling all workers, building a watchtower, outlawing charcoal burning around the plantation, installing fire breakers, and urgent resolution of workers’ grievances relating to wages. However, most of these suggestions are yet to be implemented.

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Co-operators appeal for legal framework to promote water for production

Members of Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Agali Sub County, Lira district, have appealed to the government to come up with a strong legal framework to facilitate farmers’ access to water for agricultural production.

A study report produced by the Uganda Farmers’ Common Voice platform indicates that although Uganda is endowed with water resources, most farmers in the country rely on rain-fed agriculture, mainly due to limited access to irrigation-based water sources.

The study, which was conducted by Prof. Moses Tenywa of Makerere University, blames the limited access to water for production on an inadequate legal framework for the sector.

Nixson Ogwang, the Chairman, Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society, seconded this finding, saying that the government needs to come up with a policy on the water for production.

“This would encourage the participation of the private sector in solving some of the challenges hindering small scale farmers to access water for production in the country,” he argued.

Irrigation to boost production

Established in 2016, Miromi Farmers’ Cooperative Society cooperative deals in onion and tomato production in the dry season. Members believe an irrigation system would enable them to produce food all year round and increase sales.

Ogwang appealed for the government’s support in acquiring the requisite technology through the Microfinance Support Centre.

“The current technologies on the markets are very expensive to ordinary farmers like us, but through Private-Public Partnership, the government can subsidize the costs and attract the private sector to avail the technologies to farmers at cheaper prices,” he observed.

Donald Denis Opio, the Chairperson of Can-Onoto-Waa Youth Farmers’ group, which is also under the same Cooperative, says they earn about Shs 20m per acre of tomatoes sold during the dry season.

“Part of the money got from the project is shared among the individual youths who are engaged in tomato farming,” he revealed.

The group has great ambitions. According to Ellen Akello, also a farmer, they are now targeting producing tomato and onion on a large scale for export.

“An irrigation system would help us achieve this aim, create employment for ourselves through farming and boost household income,” she said.

In an interview with thecooperator, Erute South MP, Jonathan Odur, commended the members of the cooperative for engaging in farming during this dry season and pledged to follow up with the government about their appeal.

“As leaders we shall ensure that money is available in the subsequent financial years to support farmers to access water for production. Without fighting for the farmers, Uganda will be food insecure since rain-fed agriculture cannot sustain food production in the country,” he said.

Uganda has enormous fresh water endowments covering about 15% of its total area. However, only 2% of the water is utilized for production with 1% used in irrigation compared to the 70% of water used for irrigation worldwide.

Experts say that low utilization of water for production has contributed to a decline in agricultural productivity, mostly for small holder farmers who dominate the agricultural sector in Uganda and mainly depend on rain-fed agriculture.

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Lango Cooperative Union in battle to recover lost assets

The leadership of Lango Cooperative Union is struggling to repossess its prime assets that were lost to private individuals.

Formed in 1952 to promote cotton growing in the greater Lango sub-region, it collapsed in the 1980s due to fluctuation of cotton prices and defaulting on loans taken from microfinance institutions by the Union’s then Board of directors

The government, a few years ago, offered to compensate the Union for the losses, and records at the Ministry of Finance indicate that at the beginning of this financial year, the government paid out Shs 2 bn under Lango War Claimants, out of a total debt of Shs 17 bn it owes the union.

However, Maxwell Akora, the Lango Cooperative Union Vice Chairperson, who doubles as Maruzi County MP, says that while the Union needs to recover all its assets in order to expand its projects, some people occupying the properties are reluctant to return them to the Union.

“We have secured our land assets located in Angayiki Village in Chawente Sub County, Kwania. The land, measuring about 1,165 hectares, is equivalent to 9 square kilometers. It had been previously claimed by the Microfinance Support Centre for sale to recover a debt of Shs 1.46 billion,” he said, adding:

“We have now found means of settling that debt and so we have secured the land. We are waiting to take possession from the court bailiff who has been evicting people from the land,” he said.

Some of the Union’s properties still in private hands include three separate pieces of land and one big plot under rehabilitation, an Administration block, and stores at plot 16, Station road in Lira City, among others.

Akora says while some of these assets were sold off by commercial banks that had attached them as after the Union failed to pay back loans, some were taken over by unscrupulous people occupying them as encroachers.

According to Akora, the Union is in the process of reassembling its maize and soya bean processing plants and factories, which would require it to own sufficient land, preferably in locations they formerly occupied.

Agnes Abote, a member of Akia Primary Society is happy with the move to repossess the Union’s assets and hopes it can help settle the rampant cases of land conflicts involving different primary societies.

“The Union’s leadership should be transparent and accountable. The Union’s record ended on a twist, but now that it has started recovering its assets, I believe this will benefit the primary societies as well as the farmers at the grassroots,” Abote said in an interview.

Tom Odoc, a farmer and resident of Acaba Sub County in Oyam district, advised the Union leadership to sell or lease out its land to investors as a potential source of revenue.

“The Angayiki land had been redundant for too long,” he argued. “The Union’s leadership should auction the land to an investor in order to get the money that may be divided to the different primary societies, facilitate the Union’s activities, or be loaned out to farmers.”

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