GULU – A savings and loans services association formed in 2019 by West Acholi Cooperative Union has soared to new heights of growth – through money lending of about Shs 10,000 to Shs 3 million to members.
The clientele has also grown. The West Acholi Cooperative Financial Services Limited doles out loans to about 360 members to date.
According to Alex Odong, the manager, cooperators, especially women, had a hard time in the past accessing loans from financial institutions since many lacked collateral.
“We decided to open up a savings and loan association among members and as we talk now, it’s booming,” he said
Women, he said, are the majority loan takers and many have opened up businesses and are supporting their families without duress.
Odong said production has increased as a result of the money lending because farmers have procured farm inputs that have helped them open up land.
Kezia Acayo, a member of Amilobo Cooperative Society, said she is now able to pay school fees for her children without too much stress.
“We have group members who were on the verge of losing their land because they borrowed from money lenders, but since our cooperative brought the financial services closer, many of us are relieved,” she said.
She however, advised administrators of the financial service to get more primary cooperators on board.
Some members are still hesitant to join thinking that their savings might be encroached on just like financial institutions do, she added.
Kenneth Opira, a member at Puranga-Gem Cooperative, is optimistic that the loans offered will help people climb out of poverty.
“Some farmers have the capacity to do farming at a large scale but they lacked some basics in place since they had no access to loans, but we feel, there is a big relief,” he said.
He said however, that members need some training in financial literacy so that they use loans carefully to build their business and not to marry more women.
The association gives business, agricultural, salary and asset acquisition loans.
Membership fees are capped at Shs10,000 and each share costs Shs 100,000. Members are required to buy at least three shares.
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