VP Alupo calls for leaving no one behind when it comes to development

KAMPALA - Vice President Jessica Alupo has lauded the Millennium SACCO 2012 for its growth and vision, and bringing people in the rural areas into the money economy.

She said that the concept of savings seemed to have been understood by the people in towns for a while, but there are SACCOs in almost every village, in spite of the challenges among which, is financial illiteracy, they are leaving no one behind.

“I’m a proud member of the SACCO and we must mobilize and recognize all categories of the people as members. The idea of a SACCO was to involve and attract people, including those from the rural areas to get into the money economy. I am happy this SACCO is doing this.”

With 16,659 members, savings with over sh6.3b, a loan portfolio of over sh11b, and a share capital of over sh4b, the Millenium SACCO 2012 has only gone from strength to strength.

The SACCO which started as a brainchild of Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa in 2012, had its first shares from the diocese and the staff.

A few years later today, the SACCO has 7 branches with over 60 members of staff in Ankole, and is spreading further.

The Vice President described as “timely and relevant” the work and efforts of the SACCO as complementary to the Parish development Model.

“The idea of the PDM has been studied for some time, with the guidelines, policy framework, regulatory framework all in place to help this model. We are hopeful that the PDM and SACCOs such as these will be sustainable and of a great beneficiary to the people.

“I, therefore, thank the leaders of the SACCO for going deep into the rural areas to attract people into the money economy and consequently work for transformation of the people.”

Ankole North diocese under which Millennium SACCO 2012 falls has established a couple of generating income activities including real estate, schools, tertiary institutions among others.

“The church has done a lot and government is appreciative of the complementary role in delivering our people from poverty. With the peace and security prevailing today, such growth is inevitable”, she added.

The prayer breakfast, held under the theme “Pillars for Development” heard from key speakers, including Joe Adams from the Hampton Pryor group-USA and Prof Ezra Suruma, former Finance Minister.

In initial remarks, Mr. Adams, with more than 35 years of experience in financial institutions and risk management, said the obligation of the SACCO is to the membership as a whole, and not necessary to an individual member.

His paper, titled “neighbours helping neighbours” quoted extensively from what he called the best business book-the Bible.

He gave an in-depth talk highlighting that featured on organization and running of SACCOs.

“Unlike commercial banks, SACCOS don’t have customers, they have members, utilized and managed for the good of the members, with the purpose to embrace more people into the membership and make the community better,” Adams said.

He stressed the need to invest in the education of the facility, especially on the value of savings, loss prevention and loss recovery as critical for its members, including teaching children how to save early, and saving often so as to achieve for themselves.

“We should work for wealth, not riches and urged the leadership of SACCOs to always be forward-thinking and community-centric.

Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa of Ankole North, who started the SACCO in 2012 said he was driven to start the project which was not part of his initial work plan saying that as the Church win souls for Christ, “I don’t engage in anything that doesn’t involve transparency and we will always be transparent”.

The Bishop said he was driven by visualization of putting dreams to realization.

“God has made this possible through this SACCO that has made a profit for the last two years”.

He requested for increased protection of local banks saying “If Uganda is to be truly independent, we should promote local banks, we should not leave the lucrative business to foreign banks.”

Bishop Sheldon thanked the president for continuously challenging the church to get involved in poverty eradication programs and development. “Today though, we are not inviting you to fundraise for the church, but make a profit for you,” he remarked to the vice president who is also a member of the SACCO.

Prof Ezra Suruma, former Minister of Finance re-encountered his experience when he wrote a cabinet paper, against which savings and credit institutions were adopted as a model for microfinance.

"At the time, I wanted to create capital for our people to save, and a mechanism for our people to gain; I was looking for a window for Africans to get into the banking sector, so I recommended SACCOS, inspite of the challenges."

Suruma urged government officials to encourage a saving culture.

“We must break the mentality that government will always send money to the people.”

While responding to the SACCO's board Chair Frederick Tumwine's remarks that the objective was to grow the SACCO into an indigenous local bank, Prof Suruma cautioned them to go slow “because" he said, “there is a risk you will likely lose out to foreigners”, adding that if the SACCO is well managed, it would accomplish everything that a bank does.

“If there are 7 branches, they can be 70, 700 and beyond”, describing this as a new opportunity in the history of Uganda.

“This is something we can fight for, stand for and there will be no one with the moral courage to say that this is not right, because this is the will of God.”

Later, the Vice President gave the SACCO leadership a brand new pickup, a gift from the president that she said, would be used for monitoring progress of the SACCO.

Prior, Tumwine, the SACCO's Board Chair highlighted the objectives, among which were to improve people's livelihoods through affordable loans.

He thanked Government for providing peace and protection that has enabled the running of institutions uninterrupted.

Present at the breakfast were several leaders, including former IGG-Jotham Tumwesigye and Prof Pamela Mbabazi, Chairperson of the National Planning Authority.

Source: NewVision

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