The Central Bank has issued commercial banking licenses to two financial institutions, bringing the total number of commercial banks in Uganda to 26.
In a press statement on Friday, BoU said it had granted the Commercial Banking (Class 1) License Certificates to Afriland First Bank Uganda Limited effective September 12, 2019 and Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited (OBUL) effective September 13, 2019.
“Opportunity Bank has previously been trading as a Credit Institution (Tier 2) and has now transformed to a Commercial Bank (Tier 1) institution,” said BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile.
OBUL's headquarters are located in Opportunity House, at 1259 Old Kira Road, in Kamwookya, a business and residential neighborhood within the city of Kampala, Uganda's capital
As of September 2019, the financial institution had total assets worth Shs132 billion (US$36.3 million).
The company is owned by five different entities, as of October 2019 and these include MyBucks, Opportunity Transformation Inc, Faulu Trust, Opportunity International Canada and Food for the Hungry Organisation.
It was licensed in 1995 as a microfinance and began operations in 1996 as Faulu Uganda, a programme of Food for the Hungry International, a non-governmental organization. In July 1999, Faulu Uganda incorporated as a limited liability company in Uganda, becoming Faulu Uganda Limited. Under that name, the company became part of the Faulu network in Uganda and Kenya.
As a credit institution, it was not authorized to offer checking accounts or deal in foreign exchange. The company was however authorized to take in customer deposits and to establish savings accounts. It was also authorized make collateralized and non-collateralized loans to savings and non-savings customers. The company later became affiliated with Opportunity International and became a member of their network. Opportunity International specializes in lending to the poorest of the working poor. As of December 2015, the institution's total assets were valued at US$20.53 million, with shareholder's equity of US$7.86 million.
In 2006, Opportunity Transformation Investments and Opportunity International Australia each purchased a 31.5 percent stake in Faulu Uganda Limited, giving Opportunity International a combined majority stake of 63 percent in the fourth largest microfinance institution in Uganda. In December 2009, Opportunity bought the remaining shares of Faulu Uganda, thereby taking outright ownership of the company. The financial institution was renamed Opportunity Uganda Limited.
In November 2011, the institution rebranded to "Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited".
Afriland First Bank is a full-service bank in Cameroon, with subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Liberia, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Zambia and now Uganda.
The bank was founded in Yaoundé in 1987 under the name of Caisse Commune d'Epargne et d'Investissement. It is the largest financial services group in Cameroon.