Bugisu Cooperative Union(BCU) has pledged to have a member Savings and Credit Cooperative(SACCO) in operation by March 2020, to revitalize the union’s operations and improve the overall wellbeing of member farmers.
Johny Isaiah Sasaga, the prospective SACCO’s head told theCooperator that the SACCO hopes to beef up coffee production among the union’s farmers, by extending loans and advance financing to farmers to stave off competition from other coffee dealers.
“The primary reason of starting this SACCO is to financially empower our members with capital base and coffee financing,” he says.
Dubbed BCU SACCO, the financial cooperative has already set up its headquarters in Mbale town, and is already in the process of opening nine other branches in the union’s 9 primary societies across Bugisu sub-region.
Sasaga says the collapse of the national Cooperative Bank two decades ago, gravely affected the Union’s operations, and that although maintained its resolve to mobilize members’ coffee, bulk and market it, they found it difficult to operate without a supportive banking entity.
“With our own SACCO now, it will be easier to support member farmers with loan advances, build a robust record system, and at the same time, be able to instill the culture of saving in our community of coffee farmers.” Sasaga, who is also a member of the BCU board, says.
So far, 500 BCU members have signed up for membership in the new SACCO, and the union leadership is optimistic, their financial cooperative will be officially inaugurated in March 2020.
Sasaga told theCooperator that when the SACCO begins full operations, members will be required to present passbooks or membership cards – including a letter from BCU guaranteeing them in order to get money from the SACCO.
The Union’s chairman, also Budadiri West Member of Parliament Nathan Nandala Mafabi is optimistic that the SACCO will further empower Bugisu’s most enduring cooperative, arguing that it will act as “an absolute connector which will unite the union farmers the more.”
Mafabi says that going forward, the union will be able to pay farmers via the SACCO branches across the region, instead of farmers incurring transport expenses to travel up to BCU headquarters in Mbale town for payments.
The establishment of the SACCO comes barely two months after the Union launched a commercial Radio station, BCU FM, the first such radio owned and managed by a farmers’ cooperative in Uganda.
Established in July 1954, Bugisu Cooperative Union is one of the oldest surviving cooperative unions in Uganda, specializing in the production and marketing of coffee in Bugisu sub-region.