Members of Butuuro People’s SACCO, Bushenyi Municipality, have agreed to use part of their dividends to buy shares from their SACCO in a bid to refinance it as it struggles to recover from the COVID-19-related slump.
The decision was reached during the SACCO’s Annual General meeting held last Saturday at Plus Two High School.
According to Pison Mugizi, the Patron, Butuuro People’s SACCO, the AGM was due to take place earlier in the year but was later suspended due to the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown.
“We had arranged to have the AGM on March 21, 2020 but the country was put on lockdown and we had to suspend it, yet the cooperative regulations stipulate that an AGM should not exceed March,” he said.
Soon after the easing of the lockdown restrictions, the SACCO sought and received permission from the Registrar in charge of cooperatives to conduct the 2019 Annual General Meeting.
“When we wrote to the Registrar in charge of cooperatives seeking permission to conduct our AGM, he advised us to get in touch with the district COVID-19 Taskforce; then we had to get permission from the RDC to conduct our scientific AGM.”
Pison says the SACCO management ensured that all the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) were observed, including hand washing and sanitising, wearing masks and social distancing.
Nevertheless, the unique character of the AGM came with its own challenges.
“The meeting involved over 200 people, but of course it cannot be the usual AGM amidst the COVID-19 situation- that is one reason it was not easy to convince some of our members to reinvest their dividends.”
Benson Barigye, the Chairperson, Butuuro People’s SACCO, confirmed the resolution to reinvest 50% of members’ dividends into the SACCO.
“Members wanted 100% of their dividends as we had agreed in our pre-AGMs, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many things, our proposal was to pay 50% in cash and have 50% remain as member shares within the SACCO,” Barigye said.
The Chairperson revealed that the proposal was a contentious one that attracted heated debate among members, with some advocating for payment of all the dividends, while others wanted all payment of dividends deferred. Eventually, members arrived at a compromise.
“The Commissioner of cooperatives advised us to resolve on paying 50% of dividends to members,” Barigye said, a position that was finally adopted by the meeting.
During the AGM, Kyabugimbi SACCO was also approved as a fully fledged branch of Butuuro SACCO after it had fulfilled all the requirements.
Barigye says that according to its strategic plan, Butuuro People’s SACCO wants to transit from a SACCO to become a Microfinance Deposit-taking Institution (MDI) in the next 5-10 years.
He called upon members to buy more shares and pay their loans in time in order to resolve the COVID-19 related issues that may affect the SACCO’s performance
Butuuro People’s SACCO now has share capital of Shs 2.6bn with a total of Shs 418m in dividends.