Majority of microfinance institutions do not meet lending standards, says FIA  

Failure to adhere to international lending standards, FIA says, risks Uganda's financial systems yet the country has just been removed from the grey list. Photo / File  

What you need to know:

  • FIA says there is non-compliance in lending standards among many microfinance institutions, with many disregarding set guidelines and the Anti-money Laundering Act

Half of microfinance institutions and saving and cooperative credit organisations (Saccos), which translates to about 50 percent, do not meet international lending standards, the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) has said. 

This, according to FIA and Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority is risky for a country that was just recently removed from the grey list. 

Speaking during sensitisation on international financial standards, Mr David Ngobi, the FIA acting director for compliance and training, said there is non-compliance in lending standards among some microfinance institutions, with many disregarding FIA rules and the Anti-money Laundering Act. 

For instance, he said, many microfinance institutions and Saccos are not reporting large cash transactions, and suspicious transactions nor conduct risk assessments of customers. 

Uganda had been put on the grey list due to deficiencies in dealing with money laundering and terrorism financing. 

Mr Ngobi said several microfinance institutions and Saccos use financial technologies but do not assess risk, noting that: “FIA had put emphasis on high-risk institutions such as banks” but going forward, they would target micro-lenders, Saccos and deposit-taking institutions to increase monitoring and screening fraud capacity. 

Ms Sheilah Birungi, the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority head of legal, said many people view lending by microfinance institutions and Saccos as an informal sector business, thus the laxity to document transactions.

“When they say 50 percent do not know about it, it is true - this is a big sector which involves over 70 percent of Ugandans who save and borrow from,” she said.