OMORO: Relatives and children of fallen Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) members are crying out to President Museveni for support to boost their Cooperative, which is struggling with insufficient capital.
Based in Awere Sub-County in Omoro district, Awere FRONASA Cooperative Society was formed in 2017 to help maintain unity among all households with FRONASA roots in the area and to supplement their household incomes through viable enterprises.
The cooperative now has 3000 members, and its chairperson, Mr. Biligraham Olanya says they run a loan scheme, where members get loans at an interest rate of 2.5%, to be returned in 3-6months. “Most of our members are peasant farmers who only earn incomes after harvest and selling,” Olanya told us.
Olanya however told thecooperator that despite the loan scheme, their SACCO has failed to grow to attain the capacity necessary to meaningfully improve the conditions of their growing membership, prompting them to appeal to President Museveni for support.
“We charge a membership fee of 50,000, but many of our members still think that is on a high end, and they’re unable to raise it. Even now, we have over 2000 members who have shown interest in joining (the cooperative), but they’ve failed to raise the money,” Olanya said.
Francis Okello Odoki, a member and advisor to the cooperative says they now need a financial boost of Shs.500 million to prop up the SACCO’s capacity to be able to impact more members.
Asked why they’re particularly appealing to President Museveni for support, Odoki said they had appealed to other offices for support, in vain. “Personally I have tried to reach out to several offices but little has been achieved,” he said.
But Olanya said that as descendants of FRONASA, Awere cooperative members also have a strong attachment to the President, which had motivated them to appeal to him directly.
“We still consider President Museveni our leader, and that’s why we’re reaching out to him for support. Most of these people (Awere Cooperative members) are his supporters,” he said
FRONASA is a former military movement established by President Museveni in the 1970s to fight Idi Amin’s regime, and was later one of the many Ugandan exilee groups that merged to form the umbrella Uganda National Liberation Movement which ruled Uganda between 1979 and 1980.
Odoki says that as local farmers, they’re determined to improve their livelihoods and that the cooperative is one of the means to that end. “We opted for the Cooperative so that we can speak with a stronger voice when requesting for any support from government and other development partners,’’ he says.
He said President Museveni had pledged to support cooperatives in the area, and that it was now time to take him on that pledge.
Omoro district commercial officer Bernard Okumu, however, argued that while such support would be a big boost, cooperators should not lose sight of the bigger vision that motivated their cooperative’s founding.
“They(cooperatives) are supposed to be vehicles to bring together people to address the most pressing issues among them and better their circumstances,’’ he said.
When contacted, NRM Communications officer Rogers Mulindwa noted that FRONASA still means a lot to President Museveni, and assured the cooperators that he would come through with his pledged support. “They should just be patient,” he said.