Hoima Sacco, Government clash over Shs 50m loan

HOIMA – In a speech at the annual general meeting of the Hoima District Referees Saving and Credit Co-Operative Society (Sacco), Board Chairman Patrick Kunihira, publicly voiced his concern about a deliberate lack of financial and technical support from the Microfinance Support Center (MSC).

Kunihira told members gathered at Kitara Secondary School on April 4 that last year the Sacco applied for a loan of Shs 50 million but has got no response to date.

He said such challenges are frustrating the growth of the Sacco in the district yet MSC is mandated to help Saccos grow.

He said they submitted all the paperwork including a land title valued at Shs 50 million but MSC refused to give the loan.

He said the SACCO management wrote to the commissioner in charge of MSC and got the much-needed nod of approval for the loan.

“Our Sacco is moving on well but the challenge we are getting is that government is not supporting us, in July last year we applied for a Shs 50 million loan but to-date MSC has not replied to our request, we have moved, given them our land title and everything they demanded but unfortunately they have not given us this loan. Government injects a lot of money in MSC, now we are asking ourselves if they can’t lend money to our Sacco, who does MSC lend to?” he asked.

He also accused the minister of Finance Matia Kasaija of neglecting Saccos formed to help people climb out of poverty.

“As Banyoro we are wondering why we cannot benefit from the NRM government yet our president always points to our own in government like Finance Minister Matia Kasija.”

He said they invited MSC officials and local leaders to attend the AGM but nobody turned up including the local council chairperson. He said Saccos are collapsing because leaders and MSC officials don’t value and support them.

Interviewed for a comment, Andrew Zimbe, the Microfinance Support Center regional manager, said the loan disbursement was delayed by the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that last year Bank of Uganda wrote to MSC stopping the center from giving out loans because the economy was not doing well at that time. He urged Sacco members to remain calm. Soon, he said, money will be disbursed to the SACCO.

“When we came out of the Covid-19 lockdown you could not rush to give out money because even the people who were having our money were not paying, people who received our money in 2020 were requesting us to reschedule the repayment periods, so we had to study the economy slowly by slowly. Definitely last year no lender was giving out money, even the Bank of Uganda wrote to all banks and commercial institutions and told them that please do not give out loans based on collateral,” he said.

He also said the Sacco never surrendered any land title to MSC. He said the center doesn’t take collateral before giving out loans.

Zimbe apologized for not attending the AGM.

“Personally I was supposed to attend but we had to pick Emyooga certificate for Hoima from our head office, so we had to choose between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

SACCO PROGRESS

Philip Tibaigana, the Sacco manager, said the Sacco currently has Shs 330 million in savings and Sh22 million in shares.

He said the Sacco, which started in 2015, has 112 members and has given out Shs 279m in loans. The Sacco has two acres of titled land with Eucalyptus trees, computers, and furniture among other things.

Tibaigana however, said some members are failing to save or pay back loans largely due to the ravages of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

“We would be having over Sh 330 million but because of Covid-19 our members lost their businesses and others are just recovering and this reduced our savings because our members are no longer saving as they used to, some are withdrawing their savings to boost their business and others to look after their families,” he said.

He said in the future the Sacco may morph into a bank, have a farm, trees, transport system, and depot. “We want to have investments to ensure sustainability, so I want to encourage our members to continue saving so that we can achieve this dream.”

James Ayebale, the Sacco treasurer, said the Sacco has grown because it follows elaborate policies such as holding meetings and budgets.

“We started at village level but now we are at the district level, it has not been easy but we have been following the Sacco policies, such as financial policy, board policy, and human resources policy,” he said

Julius Tukwasibwe, a teacher at St James SS, said the Sacco has improved his livelihood. He said he has used a small loan borrowed from the Sacco at a 1% interest rate to construct a house, to acquire a plot of land in town, and pay school fees for his children.

During the meeting, Patrick Kunihira was elected chairman deputized by Tadeo Asaba. James Ayebale is the treasurer.

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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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North Kyoga Police warns against new SACCO scam

Police in North Kyoga Region has cautioned the public about a recent scam that specifically targets SACCOs and warned people against giving their money to individuals they do not know personally if they are to avoid falling prey to such fraudsters.

“Across our region, a number of vulnerable individuals and some SACCO members have sadly fallen victim to a complex scam known as ‘Courier Fraud’,” North Kyoga Regional Police Commander, Paul Nkore, said in an interview.

Nkore said that despite efforts to crack down on the cruel fraud that mainly targets SACCOs and strips members of their savings, the number of perpetrators is on the increase in the region.

“We have received a number of reports that SACCOs across the region have been targeted by fraudsters purporting to be State House officials. A total of 32 people have been arrested in connection with the alleged acts of fraud, and investigations remain ongoing,” he said.

Last week, police in Otuke district apprehended four suspected fraudsters for allegedly defrauding members of Otuke United district SACCO.

The four, led by one Monica Adongo according to reports, were moving with a letter purportedly from State House allowing them to operate as a SACCO.

The others are Robinah Akello, a resident of Aloi Sub County; Geoffrey Ap3ello of the same area and Richard Ojok of Adwari Corner, who also allegedly claimed to be the SACCO Coordinator for Otuke.

Busted

Christopher Omara, the Otuke Resident District Commissioner, told theCooperator that he received an invitation letter signed by Adongo to attend a meeting but upon consultation, he realized that the SACCO does not exist in the area.

Omara says that the four, who claim to be operating in the districts of Dokolo, Apac, Kwania, Oyam, Moroto, Kotido, and Gulu City, were also collecting Shs 10, 000 Shillings from the SACCO members.

They also claimed to have an office in Kampala at Mapeera House, but upon interrogation, were found fraudsters, the RDC revealed.

“That means the Cooperatives are at risk of fraud. We urge SACCO members not to contribute any money to any individual or organization that they are not sure is genuine,” he appealed.

In December last year, security personnel in Kwania district arrested eight suspected fraudsters for extorting Shs 42.5m from Ikwera SACCO members under the guise of offering them juicy jobs.

Caution

Edith Basalirwa, the Kwania District Police Commander (DPC), asked the public to always report unscrupulous characters to the authorities immediately.

“Please help us to reinforce the message that police officers or your bank will never ask you to hand over money or transfer funds. If you receive a call like this, do not interact – hang up and report it immediately,” Basalirwa said.

North Kyoga RPC, Nkore, reaffirmed the police’s commitment to dismantle the scam network by recruiting members of the community to be its eyes and ears on the ground.

“SACCO members and other members of the public can also seek guidance from the District Commercial Officers and the offices of the Resident District Commissioners before transacting in any business. This will save them from being taken advantage of by fraudsters,” he said.

According to the 2019 Annual Police Crime Report, North Kyoga registered the highest number of fraud cases in the country in 2019.

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SACCOs urged to embrace tech, digital lending

Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) have been urged to embrace the latest technological innovations in order to catch up with market trends and safeguard their market share.

Speaking during a one-week training of Ikwera SACCO Members, held in Aduku town council, Kwania district, the former Land Minister Daniel Omara Atubu rallied the SACCO Members to join the digital lending space, especially with the coming of mobile money.

“Technology is reshaping the financial industry forcing SACCOs to match up with the trend or risk being left out. Let’s utilize mobile money for conducting business and embrace digital loans to provide quick cash to members through mobile money wallets. Entry into digital loan platforms will safeguard the market flooded by independent digital lenders such as Commercial banks,” Omara, an Economist, noted.

Geoffrey Okello, a senior accountant at the Uganda College of Commerce, Aduku, underscored the security that digital transactions offer.

“It would protect you from the danger of being targeted by thugs after withdrawing your money from the bank,” he said.

For his part, Kwania District Commercial Officer, Patrick Bura, urged the SACCO members to appoint knowledgeable leaders who can guide them on how to make the best use of their resources.

Ikwera SACCO Ltd Manager, Robert Odur, said plans are underway to integrate the SACCO members into available digital platforms, noting that it would be one way to extend financial inclusion to the unbanked.

“We need innovative ways to bring the unbanked population into the formal financial system,” Odur said.

Ikwera SACCO Ltd., established in 2009 is fully registered with the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives. However, despite having 1,037 members and growing, and a current portfolio of over Shs 300m, the SACCO is as yet not enrolled on the Mobile money system.

The Uganda Finscope survey for 2018- a periodic study of the country’s financial sector since 2006-indicates a sharp increase in the number of Ugandans who use financial services.

The total value of mobile money transactions grew from Shs 37.4 tn ($9.7 bn) in June 2016 to Shs 79.8 tn (USD 20.7 bn) in FY 2019/2020, according to Bank of Uganda data.

The survey also found that 50 percent of savers, which works out to five million adults, save informally with village savings and credit associations and trusted community members.

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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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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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