Microfinance minister to promote Emyooga products

The Minister of State for Micro-Finance & Small Enterprises, Hon. Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune has pledged to create a department within the Microfinance Support Centre to expand the market base for products produced under the Emyooga scheme.

Kasolo made the pledge last Friday while visiting Emyooga SACCOs in Mbarara after Immaculate Tumuhimbise, the Chairperson of Mbarara City South Women Entrepreneurs’ SACCO raised concerns over potential overproduction by Emyooga enterprises with no ready market for their products.

“People should not produce and fail to find a market. I will propose to the cabinet that funds be set aside to help in marketing and research for Emyooga products,” the minister promised.

He encouraged the entrepreneurs to be innovative and to produce attractive products that will be competitive in the international market.

“I implore Emyooga members to be innovative and creative such that when you make a product, say a bag, it is as good in quality as those made from established markets like China.”

He also cautioned prudence in managing their capital resources.

“You are not supposed to overspend; create cheap capital within the informal sector because you may find it difficult to access credit from commercial banks,” Kasolo advised.

Robert Mpakibi, the Assistant Registrar of co-operatives confirmed that 32 out of 36 registered Emyooga SACCOs in the district have already accessed money under the initiative.

Impressive savings

Meanwhile, Phiona Aheebwa, the Front Desk Officer at the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd (MSC) was impressed by the saving culture demonstrated by Mbarara City South Women Entrepreneurs SACCO.

The 202-member SACCO has already saved Shs 38m since November 18, last year, bringing its total capital to Shs 68m after adding the Shs 30m Emyooga cash from MSC, revealed SACCO Chairperson, Tumuhimbise.

Aheebwa appealed to members to maintain the savings culture and promised that if they are consistent, they could benefit from a bigger loan facility from the MSC in the future.

“If members keep taking and paying their loans well, as MSC we shall make sure that we add more money in the project at a small interest rate, depending on the performance,” she said.

Aheebwa recommended that Mbarara City South Women Entrepreneurs SACCO apply for more money from MSC should the need arise.

“If you need more money, whether it’s 100m or 300m, I will recommend that you receive it from the Microfinance Support Centre. What matters is the members to grow but not for the SACCO to build magnificent buildings,” says Aheebwa

She encouraged the Commercial Officers to continue training Emyooga members for the program to benefit the entire country.

Mbarara district, comprising of Kashari North and South, received a total of Shs 1.12 bn to cater for 36 SACCOs at constituency level, while Mbarara City received Shs 1 bn also for 36 SACCOs.

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Kabarole: Kitojo Care SACCO holds first AGM after COVID-19 setback

Kitojo Care SACCO in Kabarole district has held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) this week, after missing out on holding one in 2020.

While cooperatives are required by law to hold an AGM every year, Kitojo Care SACCO, like many others countrywide, was unable to fulfill this obligation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in a temporary suspension of all manner of public gatherings.

Moreover, the SACCO saw its savings and loan portfolios take a hit as most of its members were constrained in conducting their business as a result of restrictions imposed by the government to limit the spread of the pandemic.

“Last year was a very hard one; the majority of our members are Boda Boda riders and others work at tour sites which were not working during the lockdown, so most of the businesses were on standstill. This affected our savings, loan repayment, and loan portfolio,” said Fortunate Kusemererwa, the SACCO’s Manager.

Consequently, he revealed, by year’s end the loan repayment rate had dropped from 92 to 85 percent, and the loan portfolio reduced from Shs 634m to Shs 464m

Kusemererwa said that Kitojo Care SACCO, which was started in 2007 with the aim of increasing members’ household incomes and improve on their saving culture, has since last year been faced by the challenge of the majority of its members being dormant, “to the extent that they cannot even afford to save Shs 10,000 per month.”

Taking a toll

The slowdown in the SACCO’s momentum has taken its toll on some of the developmental projects that it had recently undertaken.

For instance, Kusemererwa disclosed that the SACCO had in 2019 embarked on a project to construct its own office premises after squatting for several years at those of Kitojo Integrated Development Association (KIDA), its mother organization.

“KIDA has been hosting us for all these years, but in 2019, we decided to start constructing our own offices because members have since increased and cannot fit in the little space we are currently occupying,” he said.

However, due to the financial difficulties from the last year, they have not been able to continue with construction works.

“We had hoped to complete our office last year, but due to the lockdown, we had to halt it. Savings have drastically reduced, loan recovery is still poor and our members no longer take loans,” he explained.

AGM resolutions

Kusemererwa said this year’s AGM resolved that each member should contribute Shs 1,500 per month towards the completion of their office block, which he believes is the only option that will save them.

The Kabarole District Commercial Officer (DCO), John Kabango, who attended the AGM, advised members to reacquaint themselves with the reasons why they joined cooperatives in the first place so that they can enjoy the most benefits from them.

“Some people just join SACCOs to borrow money and run away without paying back. You need to know that these SACCOs are voluntary and are meant to help people improve their standard of living,” Kabango said.

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Nine SACCOs cleared to receive Emyooga funds in Masindi

Nine out of 54 SACCOs in Masindi district have been cleared to receive the long-awaited Emyooga cash, Moses Kalyegira, Masindi district’s Commercial Officer has revealed.

Kalyegira says the nine, which hail from the three constituencies of Masindi municipality, Bujenje county, and Buruli had met all the requirements for receiving the money and had already received Shs 132m so far.

The DCO was responding to widespread complaints by several SACCOs over delayed disbursement of the promised Emyooga cash, with many reporting that they had started receiving the money on their accounts in December but were unable to access it.

“Clearing of SACCOs is still ongoing; they could not all be cleared at the same time,” Kalyegira explained.

He went on to list the other obstacles standing in the way of some SACCOs’ receiving the money.

“You should know that you must have saved 30% of the money you are asking for. Also, the bank has to clear the resolutions by the SACCO before giving you the money. The bank’s legal team has to look into them and send them to the ministry of trade for verification before giving you a go-ahead to withdraw the money,” said Kalyegira.

The official handover of the money was launched by Masindi Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Rose Kirabira, who warned the beneficiaries against misusing the funds.

“I advise you to use this capital to move out of poverty and also develop the culture of saving. This is a push-up for your SACCOs but not money for eating,” Kirabira said.

She also encouraged the beneficiaries to report any individuals engaged in mismanaging the SACCOs’ monies so that action can be taken against them.

Cate Gafa, the Masindi Municipality Town Clerk, implored the members to use the money effectively to enable them to attract more support from the government.

“This can only be achieved when there is a good saving culture and financial discipline,” she cautioned.

The beneficiaries who turned up for the launch expressed happiness, saying they had lost hope in the program.

“Some members had even threatened to withdraw their savings because they were not seeing any future in staying with the program,” explained a beneficiary who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Co-operators condemn ‘confused’ regulatory regime

Co-operators in Western Uganda have condemned what some referred to as a “confused” regulatory regime resulting from the enactment of various laws meant to regulate the operation of cooperatives, SACCOS in particular, within the country.

The co-operators expressed their discontent during a regional forum on the changing regulatory environment for SACCOs in Uganda. The forum, which was held on Wednesday last week, brought together more than 100 leaders of cooperatives in Western Uganda, including board members, supervisory committee members, members of vetting committees, and other management staff.

According to Dr. Sylvester Ndiroramukama, Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Co-operative Savings and Credit Union (UCSCU), the discussion focused on how to harmonize the different regulations that affect the operations of SACCOs in Uganda.

“We want to bring to the attention of our members the implications of the regulations in the gazetted various sections of the Cooperative Societies Act and the Tier IV Microfinance Institutions and Moneylenders Act, 2016,” Ndiroramukama explained.

Besides the Cooperative Societies Act Cap. 112 by which all cooperatives are governed, SACCOs are now also governed by the Tier IV Microfinance and MoneyLenders Act, 2016, and the Microfinance Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2003.

The law further subjects SACCOs to the governance of-the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Agency (UMRA) and Bank of Uganda, by which they are required to be licensed, in addition to being under the oversight of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, under the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC).

“Suffocating cooperatives”

Elaborating on the regulatory situation of SACCOs in Uganda, participants at the forum argued that the stringent regulations subjecting the sector to a variety of actors could have the effect of “suffocating” cooperatives.

Ndiroramukama says that as co-operators, they are advocating for a single regulator for the sector, and an independent authority in charge of licensing, regulating, and supervising SACCOs.

“We don’t care who that single regulator would be but what we want is for the SACCOs to enjoy the benefits of backward and forward linkages,” he said.

Ndiroramukama anticipates the collapse of several SACCOs in the country if the issue of multiple regulations in the sector is not sorted out in time.

“Definitely if the status quo remains, SACCOs will die and this is why we are bringing it to the attention of the government that the current laws conflict against each other,” Ndiroramukama said.

Stephen Bongonzya, the vice-chairman of UCSCU, revealed that the different regulators are jostling for control over SACCOS, something he thinks could be injurious to the cooperatives. He too believes the legal regime as it is could spell disaster for some SACCOs.

“The Microfinance Deposit-Taking Institutions Act regulates companies meaning that some of the SACCOs that cross will automatically become companies, and you can never be allowed to slide back. In case of issues, Bank of Uganda will either advise you to merge, be bought or end up collapsing, which is the reason we are insisting that they remain as SACCOs,” Bongonzya explained.

Sort us out, or else…

Some of the attendees at the forum threatened to stage a strike if the law is not rectified to have a single regulator for all cooperatives.

“We had several discussions and made recommendations, but our submissions were not considered when amending the Act? Are we now orphans? If we don’t have any ministry that is concerned for our affairs, this is the right time to start a strike to retain our identity as SACCOs,” a tough-talking staffer of Kitaga SACCO fumed.

However, the CEO of UCSCU, urged the co-operators to desist from any talk of violence, saying they will use non-violent processes to bring about the desired harmony within the cooperative laws.

“We are not going to strike because as co-operators we don’t believe in violence; we are democratic and law-abiding institutions, which is why we use the approach of engaging and petitioning, which doesn’t involve using excessive force or violence,” Ndiroramukama said.

Rev. Can. Duncans Mugumya, the Board Chairman, Jubilee SACCO (West Ankole Diocese), also urged calm, calling instead for engagement with lawmakers, saying, “The existing law was passed by human beings and can just as well be changed be the same.”

Prominent among the issues raised by participants were the number of licensing and supervisory agencies, and the mix-up of funds, among others. that were petitioned to the speaker of parliament.

The UCSCU officials reported that they had petitioned Parliament about the issues of concern to cooperatives.

“We have raised the contradictions with the Office of the Speaker of Parliament through a petition, and she has already written to the relevant committees of ministries to ensure that they harmonize these inconsistencies in the two laws,” Bongonzya said.

Spilled milk

However, a cross-section of the co-operators in attendance likened their peers’ complaints to crying over spilled milk, saying the time for protest is now long past, given that the offending law is already in place.

“I think we should comply with the law. We should have defied when it was still in preparation, but now that it’s already amended it’s a challenge to overcome. We can instead adopt amicable means to resolve the gaps within it,” argued Charles Muramuzi, one of the participants.

Muramuzi also opined that some of the resistance to the new legal regime is born of fear by SACCOs that have till now been non-compliant with existing regulation.

“The problem is that we are fearing change vis-à-vis compliance because these new regulations are very strict with regard to compliance, and yet we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing as SACCOs. But if we accept these laws, then we can benchmark and grow like any other successful cooperatives,” he said.

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Kakumiro bee farmers resolve to form SACCO

Bee farmers in Kakumiro district have resolved to form a SACCO in a bid to address some of the challenges they face in their enterprise.

According to Joseph Serugo, a bee farmer and conservationist with Kayirebwa Chimpanzee Conservancy, since 2010 he and other farmers have been using traditional methods to make beehives and process their honey, but they want to adopt modern ones come April.

In addition, the farmers intend to set up a SACCO with a central collection point where members can bulk their honey that they would then sell at a fair price.

“Plans are in high gear to organize for the modern beehives and establish a SACCO so that things like marketing improve. We are currently earning very little for our honey,” Serugo told theCooperator.

“We are currently earning very little for our honey,” Serugo told the Cooperator.

Serugo, who says he currently earns about Shs 500,000 each season from honey, believes the increased investment in the business will attract more customers and boost his earnings.

Sarah Katono, also a bee farmer and member of the same group, says a SACCO would save them from having to borrow from external lenders who tend to levy prohibitively high-interest rates.

“I want to be able to purchase machines to harvest wax from my bees and add value to it by making items like candles. I am unable to do that currently because the money I get is not enough,” Katono said.

She also hopes that the SACCO can help members push for better honey prices and improve their livelihood.

“I sell my honey at between Shs 5,000- Shs 10,000 to middlemen and also individual customers who buy for their own consumption but I would like to earn more from it,” she said.

Meanwhile, William Lalobo, a private conservationist at Aswa Falls Conservancy and a beekeeper, plans to extract bee venom for export.

“I have already received the machines and will soon begin extraction of the venom,” Lalobo says.

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Masindi women tipped on growing their SACCOs, SMEs

Women belonging to different women’s SACCOs and savings groups, as well as owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Masindi district have been trained on how to manage and grow then from one level to the next.

The one-day training was conducted by the All-in-One Women’s Association (ALOWA) at Kolping hotel in Masindi on Wednesday.

Godfrey Bahemuka, the Masindi district Community Development Officer (CDO), sensitized participants on the processes and procedures of forming SACCOs and savings groups, and on the roles of the elected leaders.

“As members, you should always know the vision, mission, and objectives of your groups and SACCOs. Most of you don’t know these things and yet they are key. That’s why many of your groups and SACCOs don’t last,” explained Bahemuka.

He also underscored the need for proper record keeping in all organizations involved in savings and credit, noting that this documentation is necessary for accountability.

The members were also taken through group conflict management and basic financial literacy.

Bahemuka also advised the leaders of different women groups to make use of the available government programs like the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) and Emyooga to get capital for their businesses.

Unite purposefully

Lilian Namirimu, the Executive Director, ALOWA urged women to unite with a purpose, and not only plan to come together when the government is planning to give out funds.

” As women, we need to work together and not in isolation. We shall achieve our targets if we are united,” Namirimu said, adding that unity would give them greater bargaining power in lobbying for their interests.

Namirimu said the association decided to extend this training to women because of the important role they play in promoting social and economic development.

Florence Achiro, the Chairperson, Women of Worth Catering Group, commended ALOWA for organizing the training.

“The knowledge we have acquired will enable us to improve on the management of our groups and businesses.”

Stella Alinaitwe from Masindi Central Market Vendors SACCO appealed for further training opportunities from other organizations.

“We really have inadequate knowledge on how to run these SACCOs. We need more training like this to equip us with the necessary information to grow our SACCOs and businesses.”

The meeting was attended by market vendors, produce dealers, and women leaders, among others.

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Oyam: Emyooga beneficiaries demand business skills training

Beneficiaries of the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation in Oyam district are seeking business skills training to guarantee the success of the program.

The demands from the groups came shortly after the government disbursed more than Shs 1 bn to facilitate the Emyooga initiative in Oyam.

Emyooga was introduced in 2019 to offer seed capital to Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) groups across the country.

The government earmarked a total of Shs 260 bn to be expended on groups of Ugandan entrepreneurs from18 clusters. Each of the successful groups comprising a minimum of 30 members is entitled to Shs 30m in seed capital.

But the beneficiaries in Oyam district say that although they need the money, they require adequate knowledge in entrepreneurship and business management if the projects they are to start with the funds are to be sustainable.

Geoffrey Awio, a member of Loro United Motorist SACCO Group says members need to be equipped with skills that will enable them to use the money effectively.

Similarly, Stella Adyero, a member of Noteber Tailoring Group in Oporowie Village appealed to the area Community Development Officers to plan for thorough training of recipients of the Emyooga funds so as to mitigate failures.

“Many of the government projects like youth livelihoods have failed due to lack of knowledge. The CDO (Community Development Officer) and the District Commercial Officer (DCO) should offer us training that will acquaint us with business skills for the success of the project,” she said.

Otwal Sub-County Chairperson, Semmy Akello says the local leadership network is keeping tabs on the line officers to ensure successful implementation of the different projects being undertaken by the selected beneficiary groups.

“We have different beneficiary groups including produce dealers, fish farmers, and motorists. As a Sub-County, with our extension officers on board, we are committed to ensuring that the project is a success,” Akelli said.

She conceded the importance of the requested-for business management training and promised that training opportunities would be organized for willing groups.

Similarly, Nelson Adea Akar, the District Chairperson, pledged to rally the needed support towards the training of the project beneficiaries so that they put the money to good use, alleviate poverty, and improve their livelihoods.

“We shall make sure that the money reaches them, and that they utilize it well. On behalf of the community, we shall monitor to ensure the money serves the intended purpose so that it can benefit the intended beneficiaries,” he said in an interview.

However, Jillian Akulu, the Oyam Resident District Commissioner (RDC), warned groups against engaging in influence peddling and bribery to quicken the process of accessing the funds.

There are already 36 assessed SACCOs for the 18 categories of beneficiaries for the Job and Wealth Creation Initiative. They were selected across the two constituencies of Oyam North and Oyam South respectively.

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Masindi Crime Preventers form SACCO

Crime preventers in Masindi district have formed a SACCO as one way of improving their economic status.

According to Musa Kabalega, the Chairperson Tukurakuranize Saving and Credit Society Limited, they formed the SACCO on the advice of President Yoweri Museveni.

“We got this idea from the president who advised us to form a SACCO to enable us to get support from the government. He was addressing us at Lugogo cricket Oval in 2018 and pledged to support every SACCO with Shs 100 million,” said Kabalega.

Museveni has on several occasions encouraged Ugandans to form SACCOs through which they can be supported financially by the government.

To date, the 125-member SACCO has received Shs 10 million from the government, which it has started loaning out to members.

Kabalega, who also doubles as the Regional Coordinator for Crime Preventers in Bunyoro sub Region, has big plans for the future.

“Our dream is to open up a SACCO in at least in every sub-county. We have crime preventers in every village and this will help our members benefit from government and also develop a savings culture,” he said.

Masindi district has four divisions, four town councils, and 10 sub-counties and Kabalega says that have crime preventers in all of them. This implies that 18 Crime Preventers’ SACCOs could potentially be opened up across the district.

Training needed

Kabalega also appealed to relevant organizations and government to equip them with knowledge on how to run SACCOs noting that most of them have inadequate knowledge on the daily activities of SACCOs.

“Many SACCOs and Cooperatives are failing to thrive because both leaders and members are lacking the necessary knowledge. The training we get from our district officials is inadequate since they don’t give us enough time; it would be good if other organizations and the ministry in charge of cooperatives could also come in,” he said.

About Crime Preventers

According to Human Rights Watch, Crime preventers are “a volunteer force of civilians recruited and managed by police to report on and prevent crime in cooperation with the police and communities.”

The force was formed in 2013 and, at its height in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential elections, comprised of more than 1.5 million members, according to Police figures.

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One year later, Cooperatives struggling to emerge from COVID-induced slump

Almost a year after Uganda first imposed several restrictions aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19, many cooperatives are still struggling to get back to their feet despite being open for business for many months now.

In a series of interviews with leaders of top cooperative societies in Western Uganda, theCooperator has learnt that for most of them business remains slow, while others totter on the leeway side of collapse.

Edmond Sajabi, the Manager Kakoba-Mbarara SACCO reports that a stock-taking of the past year indicates that the economic impact of the pandemic hampered the performance of SACCOs.

“Remember, during the total lockdown, restrictions on movement meant that most of our members could not report to their cooperative premises to save, resulting in a reduction in savings,” he said.

A moratorium on most businesses also meant that members who had taken out loans were unable to pay up since they were not working anymore.

“The closure of businesses led to increased defaulting on loans and low loan recovery. For instance, schools were closed yet the operators had acquired loans. This means the amount of interest they had to pay also increased and yet they were not in position to do so,”

Citing the case of Kakoba-Mbarara SACCO, Sajabi revealed that the financial cooperative only managed to collect only Shs 609m in total savings.

“We had estimated that we would collect savings totalling to 649 million but by the end of 2020, we only managed to get 609 million. Our loan portfolio target was 1.5 billion but we only realised 1.2 billion at the end of the financial year because people were not taking loans; businesses were closed and you could not risk giving a person who is not working a loan,” said Sajabi.

The veteran co-operator predicts that the liquidity constraints facing SACCOs in the wake of the COVID-induced slump will force some to close in the years to come.

“Some cooperatives no longer have the capital to meet operational expenses such as rent and staff salaries, which directly affects the workers. Others have even terminated their employees’ contracts,” Sajabi said.

John Rutakirwa, Operations Manager at BESANIA SACCO, confirmed that the closure of businesses due to the pandemic injured most cooperatives in Mbarara.

“Cooperatives entirely depend on their members for financing, so when most of the businesses closed it left most of the cooperative societies in a liquidity crisis,” Rutakirwa said.

Rutakirwa revealed that BESANIA SACCO had not emerged unscathed from the pandemic, registering a 60% increase in default rate due to hiccups being faced by members’ businesses.

He appreciated government’s decision to gradually loosen restrictions on businesses, thereby allowing cooperative activities to resume.

Mzee Eliezar Ariho, a farmer, told theCooperator that COVID-19 had affected his savings momentum with EBO SACCO in Mbarara.

“I used to save over two hundred thousand shillings per day from my farm, but since February 2020 I rarely take my money to the SACCO. I even fear to apply for a loan because the little we get now is only for survival,” he says.

Ariho adds that the drastic drop in crop prices during the pandemic had stifled his dream of expanding his banana plantation into a model farm in Mbarara district.

“It’s not that I lacked the expertise, but how would you improve on the plantation when a bunch of bananas costs three thousand shillings? How would you improve the dairy farm when Kenya blocked the exportation of cattle products from Uganda?” he asks.

Yosia Bagabo, Chairman, Kabura farmers’ Co-operative society, says attributes the low milk prices during COVID-19 to closure of borders, thereby affecting access to neighbouring markets like Kenya.

“The first lockdown affected us so much because we were stuck with 60,000 litres of milk which we used to supply to Pearl Dairies every day. Given that borders were closed, they stopped taking our milk for almost 10 days, causing losses to our dairy farmers and exploitation by private buyers and middle men because they had no alternative of selling that milk on a large scale,” Bagabo explained.

Hope of recovery

Nevertheless, co-operators are hopeful that with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, sanity within the sector has started to be restored.

“Since May 2020, there has been a notable improvement especially in terms of loan recovery that stands at 65% unlike in March, April, and May 2020 when we only secured 12%,” Sajabi said, in reference to Kakoba-Mbarara SACCO, adding:

“People are now coming to save, get loans and new members opening accounts as well.”

He appealed to government to prioritise vaccination for businesses that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

“Some of the closed businesses like schools should be allowed to vaccinate their pupils and students and open. Bars should also be allowed to resume operations,” Sajabi said.

He also proposed institution of a support fund for such businesses in addition to directing financial institutions to hold off on demanding loan repayments from them until they get back to their feet.

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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.

Frustrated

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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