Leaders of SACCOs that were recently formed to benefit from the Presidential Initiative on Job and Wealth Creation (Emyooga) are under pressure as members demand a refund of their savings following delays in accessing the promised Emyooga funds.
The SACCO leaders, who spoke to theCooperator, explained that members are concerned that although the money is on their accounts, they are unable to access it.
According to Hoima’s District Commercial Officer, John Tumusiime, the district has 72 SACCOS which were formed from 1460 Emyooga associations based in the four constituencies of Hoima west division, Hoima East division, Kigorobya, and Bugahya County and each constituency has 18 SACCOs.
Each constituency is supposed to get Shs 560m out of a total 2.24 bn that was allocated to the entire district.
Members of the different Emyooga groups were required to buy shares in their respective SACCOs and start saving regularly as they waited for the government cash.
Florence Asaba, the Chairperson for Hoima West Women Entrepreneurs’ SACCO, says that members have started demanding a refund of their savings saying they have lost hope in the program.
Asaba says that although money was wired onto the different SACCO accounts in January, members cannot access it because the SACCOs do not have certificates.
” As Chairperson of the SACCO, I am finding challenges: people have been saving, others paid for shares and subscription fees and are now demanding that I refund their money so that they can withdraw from the SACCO.”
Asaba says all her pleas for patience have fallen on deaf ears and asked the District Commercial Officer and the Resident District Commissioner to come to their aid.
Edward Isingoma, the Treasure of Hoima West Fishmongers’ SACCO, also expressed dismay with the government’s failure to allow their members to access the money.
” The president promised that we would get the money in December, but we haven’t seen a single coin till now, despite having done whatever was required of us,” he complained.
He, too, says he has to contend with frustrated members who want to withdraw their savings.
“We have nowhere to get this money because we used it to open up an office and register the SACCO, among costs. Some have even started calling us thieves,” Isingoma said.
One individual who wants his money back so he can exit the scheme is James Mucuguzi, a member of the Hoima Boda-boda Emyooga association who says he is tired of waiting and can put his money to better use.
He suspects that the promised Emyooga cash might have been a ruse to hoodwink citizens for political reasons.
“They tell us that the money is on the SACCO account but they cannot access it; what is the reason behind the delays? Or was it a political trick to persuade us to vote for some people?” he asked.
Hoima District Commercial Officer, John Tumusiime, admitted to the delays in producing the certificates but called on the members to be patient adding that he was expecting to receive the certificates soon.
“We submitted all requirements to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives through the Microfinance Support Center (MSC), which was given the responsibility of processing the certificates. Unfortunately, they have delayed to produce these certificates, but I appeal to members to remain calm. The certificates will be here soon.”
He urged the different SACCOs to use this time to put in place measures to ensure that the Emyooga cash, which is meant to be a revolving fund, is used sustainably once received.
“As we wait for the certificates, let us put in place measures to ensure that the systems and structures of the different SACCOs and associations are strengthened. For example, we need to have proper records, contacts, offices independent from individual members’ businesses, and staff with basic qualifications,” he advised.
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