The government this week finalised the launch of the latest presidential initiative on wealth and job creation, promising to avail a total of Shs260b in grants to Ugandans across the country.
Dubbed “Emyooga initiative”, the programme is meant to get Ugandans doing similar jobs to form savings groups, whose bank balances will be boosted by a grant from the government.
The money would then be used as a revolving fund, with members borrowing out of it.
Implemented by the Microfinance Support Centre Ltd (MSC), the project targets 18 clusters of the economy. These include boda boda riders, women entrepreneurs, carpenters, salon operators, taxi operators and restaurant owners.
Others are welders, market vendors, youth leaders, persons with disabilities (PWDS), produce dealers, mechanics, tailors, journalists, performing artists, veterans, fishermen and elected leaders.
Unlike previous initiatives such as Entandika, the money that the government will avail to groups under the Emyooga will not be required to be paid back.
The project is to be implemented at constituency level, with each constituency set to receive Sh560m and each cluster or group Shs30 million.
Mr Haruna Kasolo, the State minister for Microfinance, said: “People who are into the same enterprise come together, for instance, only boda boda cyclists.
Every cluster in a constituency is supposed to get Shs30m as seed capital. So in every constituency we are creating 18 Saccos. We have split into blocks, mobilising all at a parish level and that is where the saving and loaning will be done, we just keep the money at the constituency level.”
Kampala City will take the lion’s share of the money about Shs50b of the total amount.
Eight hundred and fifty Saccos are to be formed in Kampala because of the large number of expected beneficiaries, the minister said.
To critics who say the initiative is being rolled out too close to the forthcoming election to garner support for the ruling party, Mr Kasolo said: “Have you not seen other government programmes running? Why should I [microfinance minister] close? These are planned programmes.
This government is still in charge. This is not for politics, otherwise we wouldn’t come to Kampala because it is Opposition-dominated. This programme should not be politicised.”
The minister said the mobilisation phase has been completed in the rest of the districts and district taskforces set up, with only Kampala District still in the process.
Training is ongoing, he said, and disbursement of funds set to commence on October 18 and 19 in Teso Sub-region.