Emyooga savings hit Shs9b in nine months

Sunday May 09 2021
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Finance Minister Matia Kasaija (2nd right) hands a plaque to Mr Isa Aliga, who heads Nyendo-Mukungwe Journalists Sacco, which emerged one of the best performing Saccos under the Emyooga programme in Kampala on Friday. Looking on is Microfinance minister Haruna Kasolo (right) and Microfinance Support Center board chairman Aliba Kiiza. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By George Katongole

Implementers and beneficiaries of the emyooga livelihood programme on Friday converged in Kampala for an early review of the project’s operation. 
During the stakeholders’ engagement at Royal Suites Hotel in Bugoloobi, Kampala, Ms Hellen Masika, the Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) deputy executive director, counted several benefits registered by her institution as the implementing agency of the fund, including Shs9.8b in members’ savings.

Ms Masika explained that the core objective of transforming Uganda into a middle income status has gained a boost as 6,394 savings and co-operatives (Saccos) have already been established, with 205,710 parish-based emyooga associations, bringing together more than four million people.

The Emyooga programme
Formed in August 2019 by President Museveni as a response to the high levels of poverty, where 68 per cent of Ugandans depend on subsistence farming, Masika explained that under the Emyooga project, Shs200b has already been disbursed to 6,394 Saccos in 146 districts.
“But the greatest achievement is that by April, the Saccos had saved Shs9.9b. This is positive in regards to the poor savings culture in the country,” she explained.

Mr James Muhwezi, the MSC business development services and collaboration manager, said poor people, especially women, have limited access to finance as a result of lack of collateral.
Florence Namaganda, a member of Iganga Municipal Constituency Tailoring Sacco, said they supplemented the Shs30m from emyooga to buy multi-purpose overlock sewing machines that can trim, stitch and overcast seams at the same time. She says emyooga also saved members from the loan stigma.

“We no longer need to take our pieces for finishing elsewhere. We are also happy that we do not need to be photographed with our property by village banks,” she said.
Emyooga targets 18 constellations, including restaurant owners, boda bodas, women entrepreneurs, carpenters, salon operators, journalists, people with disabilities, fishermen, mechanics, performing artists, and taxi operators, among others.  Both the Ministry of Microfinance and the MSC, which disburses the money and gives technical support to the programme, say each constituency in Uganda is expected to receive Shs560m.
Kampala and Wakiso are exceptions, owing to their high population density.

The implementing agency, MSC, recommended a nominal share value for each member at Shs100,000 and Shs50,000 for membership. Interest would also have to range between eight and12 per cent per annum on any borrowed funds.
“But there is great demand and we hope the scope is increased to support other categories like washing bay operators, bar owners and brick layers, among others, who were initially left out,” Masika explained.