UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Ugandans ought to borrow a leaf from Murang’a County Women’s Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) in Kenya, which took a risk by venturing into the real estate sector.
In 2018, Murang’a County Women SACCO unveiled their five-storey apartment building, which at full capacity, generates over $10,000 per month in rent.
For five years, the 25,000 members in the group raised $1 million to build their student housing apartment building. Even with as little as $0.10 per day, the members consistently contributed.
Ndegwa, a member of the Murang’a County Women SACCO (MCWS), explained that the group did things differently. They invested in real estate instead of following the conventional strategy of focusing on small farms and micro-enterprises.
She said “it’s sad that, over the years, the women’s contributions were only used to buy [things like] household utensils.”
“This building has created many opportunities for me,” Ndegwa continued. “I will now be able to improve my credit worthiness and be able to get bigger loans from banks or SACCOs, which will help me invest in other income-generating ventures.”
With the income generated from the apartments, the SAACO has planned to purchase about 2,000 acres in Laikipia County to be divided among the members. Once divided, each member will implement their own plan, such as farming, or commercial enterprise.
The story of MCWS shows similar successes can be reached by the Emyooga project in Uganda, especially if SACCOs commit to doing things differently.
The Emyooga project was initiated in August last year by President Museveni, to allow Ugandans in the informal economy to increase their household income by launching projects through Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs).
What is the Emyooga Project All About?
The State Minister for Microfinance, Hon. Haruna Kasolo, explains that the word “emyooga” means a group of people working towards the same thing. He said that the Emyooga project aims to target individuals in the following clusters: bodaboda riders, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artistes, veterans, fishermen and elected leaders as long as they are over 18 years of age.
The project aims to remove barriers of entry by providing low interest startup capital to SACCOs to start their businesses. Members of the SACCOs will express their commitment to the goal by paying USh 20,000 annually.
By late February 2021, USh 184.9 billion of the total USh 260 billion budgeted had already been allocated to 5,955 SACCOs through the Microfinance Support Centre. Hellen Petronilla Masika, the MSC deputy executive director, said “the individual beneficiaries are 4.3 million people, and we look forward to benefiting at least 10 million Ugandans by 2021.”
Hon. Kasolo also addressed concerns about the potential misuse of the money allocated to SACCOs.
“We have focused on ensuring that the leaders of SACCOs are well selected. I guided that the money be wired directly to the beneficiaries’ SACCO account. The signatories are clear, not even a single coin will be taken by any other person. So, we shall monitor everything and ensure that there’s no misuse. But we are also here to guide them on how they can properly manage this fund. Sometimes, misuse can also begin with the persons implementing the project,” he said.
The beneficiaries of the project will make investments in areas like real estate where there are financial and cultural hindrances that stop people from owning land. With the right knowledge, the groups can venture into projects with high yields by pooling money and expertise.
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