Microfinance Service Development in Uganda

St. Balikudembe Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Owino Saaco) is one of the very many cooperative companies spread around the country – and masterminded by government in 2006 – to empower economically marginalized Ugandans. And it is one of the most promising government-founded savings and credit cooperative societies in Kampala Sub-region.

St. Balikudembe branch started operating in 2007 from its first home in Nakivubo trading area to offer market vendor-tailored services, like sending out field officers to collect savings from client stalls rather than them (clients) walking to company offices, its strategic location within market premises and the practice of giving business-friendly loans.

It set out to strengthen existing businesses and support enterprise initiatives by opening up to the business community in its area of ​​operation. They did so through purchase of shares. It was stipulated that minimum amount of shares a member bought were five (5) costing five thousand shillings only (5,000/-) while no limit was put on maximum amount one wished to take. It was at the time clients needed to borrow that members were required to hike shares held from 5,000/= to 30,000/= Uganda Shillings. This helped to increase loan repayment security.

In that respect, low income earners were encouraged to save or raise membership fees in bits or small amounts they could afford such that, at end of the day, they took full rights and benefits of their membership while clients with shares expected dividends at the end of the year.

To completely secure membership to sacco, basically, clients had to pay 16,000/- where 10,000/- was charged to open an account, 5,000/- in payment for the minimum shares a client ought to have -and 1,000/- as charge for passbook or account book.

From there, one began the run to self-driven economic liberation as at that time they qualified to receive loans depending on the amount saved while amount of shares remained constant at 30,000/-. If for example a member had 75,000/- in savings, he or she was eligible to access a loan of 300,000/=; 125,000/- = 500,000/-; 250,000/-=1,000,000/-; and the limit amount of money they could borrow was 2,000,000/-.

Before 2006, there was very little knowledge about saccos: their intentions, operations, management (efficiency and effectiveness, financial trust, safety and insurance).

Going into it them opened doors for one to learn about management issues of saccos, role descriptions and executions, working in a busy market environment, general organization structure, general history of saccos in Uganda, customer-relations, client training and recruitment of new ones . That, of course, had its challenges, like the taunting history of saccos involving a series of them in the same area (Owino). In fact, stories of that nature were widespread; not only in Owino but all over Uganda.

Interestingly, however, government-founded saccos (GFSs) had financial and social security safeguards better than small privately individual own saccos. Not all did represent the truthfulness of a sacco. While saccos stood for ownership by members, in their operations, it was something different -personal business.

Unlike privately-owned saccos, GFSs enabled access to loans in the friendliest manner, flexible pay back, based its decisions to lend money on membership fees and amount of money accumulated and by sought signatures of at least three (3) people; one of them, a fellow member to the sacco and others; a market zone leader, and a local government leader in the area of ​​residency. That facilitated a healthy and trustworthy relationship between sacco management and clients.

But in both, the client had to have some kind of security -in possession of a business stall, immediate asset (as collateral security) or belonging to a responsible group of five (5) people.

In attempting to build confidence in would-be clients during sensitization, it was critical to clearly state such advantages as the possibility to save or repay loans in amounts they could afford and to expect a monthly bank charge of 1,000/= cheaper than the system of instituting percentage charges basing amount saved and withdrawn (eg 20,000/= charge on 40,000/=, 40,000 charge on 80,000/=). This would indeed promote poverty rather than fight it.

But, also, the advantage that GFSs were not individual properties that single owners will one day walk-away with – along with client money compared to private ones – simply because they were entities owned by members with shares and savings in it. Hopefully with constant yet close supervisions of sacco affairs, St. Balikudembe Sacco will turn out to be the safe-haven of everyone wishing to improve his or her economic life.

However, there was need to build effort and expertise needed to increase client-base for or membership of St. Balikudembe Savings and Credit Cooperative Society. On top of that; understand business environment, study company history and operation system, identify key staff support units (or officers) and gain experience at working in as busy areas as Owino or St. Balikudembe market.

Approaches adopted were; client-based services that involved engaging clients -right from their work area -a kind of mobile office, exploit areas with already existing members as these acted as role-models, role clarity and avoid unnecessary mix with work unpaid for or meant for other staff , plan for my field work every day -to include right content and presentation style done in after a small meeting before setting off, evaluate day’s work and record planned actions for the next day’s field mission, daily short message service, time table for work changed from 9 am to 10am of the less busy days to 11am and above for busier ones and enough time was given for rain to down-pour and flood entire work area until it stopped and drained out -and pass on information to the understanding of would be clients and questions were well answered and, where more information was needed, consultation was always the last nail in the coffin of the matter.

To understand the business environment, a lot of questions were raised for the old staff who readily answered all to the best of their knowledge. They covered the geography of Owino sacco, existing branches elsewhere, timing to return after several financial scandals, management composition, busiest days of the week, legal requirements, weather concern when working in the open, working days of the week, and tactics best known to them applicable to winning customers.

Marketing documents (catalogs and brochures) were read for the right information to present to prospecting clients – giving name and location of the company, its legal status, composition of management, clientele base, requirements to join, safety issues -and streamlined share-holder benefits. Armed with such information, it was helpful to build confidence in self before prospecting clients during one on one or one on five presentations or training.

A system of operation was developed – where in case of any gap during presentation time, right people to consult were available. These included the project manager, vice-chairperson of the board -and enthusiastic staff members with experience at working in the same environment for over a year. The same units acted as reinforcements to concretize information already passed-on to the satisfaction of the prospecting or harder-to-persuade prospecting members. And once recruited, they were referred to right people – with whom to keep in reach or expect to see collecting their right savings in places where they worked, or at their stalls.

It had been understood during staff orientations that the purpose of any dynamic youthful staff working, having got the opportunity to prove one’s role-skills, knowledge and abilities was to excel and register tangible results. And at the end of the work tenure one could transfer experience to a higher position or another job for individual and social progress. It was obvious that as time went on, confidence rose so high that work became fun. Communicating company position and making every effort to persuade prospecting clients more over in a vast, very busy and noisy market area was more clear and comprehensible well enough to prompt a yes response.

Some of the achievements were: reached 200 people where in three zones; 150 showed commitment and willingness to join, only 25 showed up but only 5 were confirmed to be active members; pledges to join remained a dream of the staff (field officers); and sacco management reported increment in membership to a tune of seven million per week in collections from those who saved with it (from Monday to Sunday).

Like in any undertaking St. Balikudembe did not go without challenges – more over hard-biting ones:

To Customers

• Too poor to save and to afford collateral security – which turned sacco into a club of the haves rather than the don’t haves – escalating the rich-poor divide.

• Lost confidence in saccos and preferred bigger banks. Clients had negative experience with other microfinance institutions that operated in the area. It was reported that client money ranging from 20,000/- to 10,000,000/- was swindled so victims opted for other banks and decided never to join area cooperative society.

• Sacco demanded a lot to qualify clients to receive loans. Dividends were not given either.

• Hated mixing market politics with sacco management affairs -to which market executives were part -moreover most of them had been cited in scandals. In addition, was understood as a project of the ruling party – which prospecting members of other political parties would not join.

• They did not have sufficient training, or information about the sacco. Publicity was inadequate as at no time did vendors’ voice advertise sacco services.

• They were insecure about future changes in management and safety of their money as well as possible change of government -since government had a stake in sacco.

To Management

• Increased competition from private saccos and big banks.

• Failed to organize annual general meeting since 2007.

• Limited number of staff and inability to meet staffing costs.

• Role ambiguity to fill staffing gaps.

• Repayment follow-up was difficult to sustain to dictate staff payment.

• No living wage for staff who were required to meet the requirements of client full membership and saving strength to 50% level of confidence before 2000/= pay per convincing client entered.

• Long distances to the place of work

• Unreliable country commission to field officers

• Lack support services like breakfast chefs as this wasted staff time when they took time to prepare own breakfast.

• Inactive members of the board


St. Balikudembe Sacco can be leading GFS in Uganda – employment between 15 to 30 employees in the next 10 years. But that could be possible only if the management ensured a child-loving mother relationship with it.

Way forward:

• Introduce living wage for staff alongside commission received.

• Reduce interest rates from 20% to 16% to increase comparative advantages over other microfinance companies.

• Employ cook or introduce breakfast at the kitchen place so that staff do not add that to already busy days.

• Make possible for people who want on-spot loans to get them.

• Emphasize role clarity so that each staff (or member of the management team) knows and understands his or her work.

• Provide field gadgets as umbrellas.

In conclusion:

The future is bright for St. Balikudembe Sacco if only can trigger some changes in the management and operations. Otherwise, it was interesting experience to discover and develop this report.

Source by Jacob Waiswa Buganga

One thought on “Microfinance Service Development in Uganda

  • November 27, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    Whether you believe in God or not, this is a must-read message!!!

    Throughout time, we can see how we have been slowly conditioned to come to this point where we are on the verge of a cashless society. Did you know that the Bible foretold of this event almost 2,000 years ago?

    In Revelation 13:16-18, we read,

    “He (the false prophet who decieves many by his miracles) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

    Referring to the last generation, this could only be speaking of a cashless society. Why? Revelation 13:17 tells us that we cannot buy or sell unless we receive the mark of the beast. If physical money was still in use, we could buy or sell with one another without receiving the mark. This would contradict scripture that states we need the mark to buy or sell!

    These verses could not be referring to something purely spiritual as scripture references two physical locations (our right hand or forehead) stating the mark will be on one “OR” the other. If this mark was purely spiritual, it would indicate only in one place.

    This is where it really starts to come together. It is shocking how accurate the Bible is concerning the implatnable RFID microchip. These are notes from a man named Carl Sanders who worked with a team of engineers to help develop this RFID chip

    “Carl Sanders sat in seventeen New World Order meetings with heads-of-state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the C.I.A. to discuss plans on how to bring about this one-world system. The government commissioned Carl Sanders to design a microchip for identifying and controlling the peoples of the world—a microchip that could be inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle (a quick, convenient method that would be gradually accepted by society).

    Carl Sanders, with a team of engineers behind him, with U.S. grant monies supplied by tax dollars, took on this project and designed a microchip that is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable through the temperature changes in our skin. Without the knowledge of the Bible (Brother Sanders was not a Christian at the time), these engineers spent one-and-a-half-million dollars doing research on the best and most convenient place to have the microchip inserted.

    Guess what? These researchers found that the forehead and the back of the hand (the two places the Bible says the mark will go) are not just the most convenient places, but are also the only viable places for rapid, consistent temperature changes in the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The microchip is approximately seven millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a grain of rice. It is capable of storing pages upon pages of information about you. All your general history, work history, crime record, health history, and financial data can be stored on this chip.

    Brother Sanders believes that this microchip, which he regretfully helped design, is the “mark” spoken about in Revelation 13:16–18. The original Greek word for “mark” is “charagma,” which means a “scratch or etching.” It is also interesting to note that the number 666 is actually a word in the original Greek. The word is “chi xi stigma,” with the last part, “stigma,” also meaning “to stick or prick.” Carl believes this is referring to a hypodermic needle when they poke into the skin to inject the microchip.”

    Mr. Sanders asked a doctor what would happen if the lithium contained within the RFID microchip leaked into the body. The doctor replied by saying a terrible sore would appear in that location. This is what the book of Revelation says:

    “And the first (angel) went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 16:2).

    You can read more about it here–and to also understand the mystery behind the number 666: [Link deleted]

    The third angel’s warning in Revelation 14:9-11 states,

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'”

    Who is Barack Obama, and why is he still in the public scene?

    So what’s in the name? The meaning of someone’s name can say a lot about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface.

    Jesus says in Luke 10:18, “…I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

    The Hebrew Strongs word (H1299) for “lightning”: “bârâq” (baw-rawk)

    In Isaiah chapter 14, verse 14, we read about Lucifer (Satan) saying in his heart:

    “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

    In the verses in Isaiah that refer directly to Lucifer, several times it mentions him falling from the heights or the heavens. The Hebrew word for the heights or heavens used here is Hebrew Strongs 1116: “bamah”–Pronounced (bam-maw’)

    In Hebrew, the letter “Waw” or “Vav” is often transliterated as a “U” or “O,” and it is primarily used as a conjunction to join concepts together. So to join in Hebrew poetry the concept of lightning (Baraq) and a high place like heaven or the heights of heaven (Bam-Maw), the letter “U” or “O” would be used. So, Baraq “O” Bam-Maw or Baraq “U” Bam-Maw in Hebrew poetry similar to the style written in Isaiah, would translate literally to “Lightning from the heights.” The word “Satan” in Hebrew is a direct translation, therefore “Satan.”

    So when Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:18 that He beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven, if this were to be spoken by a Jewish Rabbi today influenced by the poetry in the book of Isaiah, he would say these words in Hebrew–the words of Jesus in Luke 10:18 as, And I saw Satan as Baraq O Bam-Maw.

    The names of both of Obama’s daughters are Malia and Natasha. If we were to write those names backward (the devil does things in reverse) we would get “ailam ahsatan”. Now if we remove the letters that spell “Alah” (Allah being the false god of Islam), we get “I am Satan”. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Obama’s campaign logo when he ran in 2008 was a sun over the horizon in the west, with the landscape as the flag of the United States. In Islam, they have their own messiah that they are waiting for called the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi (the Antichrist of the Bible), and one prophecy concerning this man’s appearance is the sun rising in the west.

    “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'” (Revelation 14:6-7)

    Why have the word’s of Jesus in His Gospel accounts regarding His death, burial, and resurrection, been translated into over 3,000 languages, and nothing comes close? The same God who formed the heavens and earth that draws all people to Him through His creation, likewise has sent His Word to the ends of the earth so that we may come to personally know Him to be saved in spirit and in truth through His Son Jesus Christ.

    Jesus stands alone among the other religions that say to rightly weigh the scales of good and evil and to make sure you have done more good than bad in this life. Is this how we conduct ourselves justly in a court of law? Bearing the image of God, is this how we project this image into reality?

    Our good works cannot save us. If we step before a judge, being guilty of a crime, the judge will not judge us by the good that we have done, but rather by the crimes we have committed. If we as fallen humanity, created in God’s image, pose this type of justice, how much more a perfect, righteous, and Holy God?

    God has brought down His moral laws through the 10 commandments given to Moses at Mt. Siani. These laws were not given so we may be justified, but rather that we may see the need for a savior. They are the mirror of God’s character of what He has put in each and every one of us, with our conscious bearing witness that we know that it is wrong to steal, lie, dishonor our parents, murder, and so forth.

    We can try and follow the moral laws of the 10 commandments, but we will never catch up to them to be justified before a Holy God. That same word of the law given to Moses became flesh about 2,000 years ago in the body of Jesus Christ. He came to be our justification by fulfilling the law, living a sinless perfect life that only God could fulfill.

    The gap between us and the law can never be reconciled by our own merit, but the arm of Jesus is stretched out by the grace and mercy of God. And if we are to grab on, through faith in Him, He will pull us up being the one to justify us. As in the court of law, if someone steps in and pays our fine, even though we are guilty, the judge can do what is legal and just and let us go free. That is what Jesus did almost 2,000 years ago on the cross. It was a legal transaction being fulfilled in the spiritual realm by the shedding of His blood.

    For God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). This is why in Isaiah chapter 53, where it speaks of the coming Messiah and His soul being a sacrifice for our sins, why it says it pleased God to crush His only begotten Son.

    This is because the wrath that we deserve was justified by being poured out upon His Son. If that wrath was poured out on us, we would all perish to hell forever. God created a way of escape by pouring it out on His Son whose soul could not be left in Hades but was raised and seated at the right hand of God in power.

    So now when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), God no longer sees the person who deserves His wrath, but rather the glorious image of His perfect Son dwelling in us, justifying us as if we received the wrath we deserve, making a way of escape from the curse of death–now being conformed into the image of the heavenly man in a new nature, and no longer in the image of the fallen man Adam.

    Now what we must do is repent and put our trust and faith in the savior, confessing and forsaking our sins, and to receive His Holy Spirit that we may be born again (for Jesus says we must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God–John chapter 3). This is not just head knowledge of believing in Jesus, but rather receiving His words, taking them to heart, so that we may truly be transformed into the image of God. Where we no longer live to practice sin, but rather turn from our sins and practice righteousness through faith in Him in obedience to His Word by reading the Bible.

    Our works cannot save us, but they can condemn us; it is not that we earn our way into everlasting life, but that we obey our Lord Jesus Christ:

    “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’

    Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’

    And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” (Revelation 21:1-8).


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