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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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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