While several SACCOs around the country suffered serious setbacks during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, Lyamujungu Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) in Kabale registered a 10% increase in savings, according to Dick Byamukama, the SACCO’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Byamukama, who last week, attended the cooperative leadership induction organized by The Uhuru Institute (TUI), attributed the increase in savings to closure of schools, one of the measures instituted to limit spread of the pandemic.
“The increase in savings is estimated to be at 10%. It’s unbelievable, because initially we thought savings would be reduced. We suspect that the increase was a result of parents not paying school fees for their children, so they instead saved this money with the SACCO,” he said.
However, Byamukama believes that the tide might shift when schools reopen. In response, the SACCO has made some prudential investments using the surplus savings received during the past few months.
”We have fixed over one billion shillings with Link bank and we expect some good interest at the expiry of three months,” Byamukama added.
In his last COVID-19 address to the nation made last month, President Museveni said Cabinet is yet to decide on the fate of schools and, along with them, that of about 15 million learners, a decision he promised to communicate this month.
Among guidelines issued by Minister of State for Cooperatives during the celebration of International Cooperatives Day on 4th July this year, Hon. Frederick Ngobi Gume directed cooperatives, during lockdown, to refrain from decision that bear financial costs to the organization, restricting them to only operational budget expenses and essential services like salaries, while dividends and bonuses await the Annual General Meeting.
The impacts of COVID-19 on the health and operations of cooperatives were generally devastating for many societies like Panyemuri Dei Area Cooperative Society (PD-ACS) in Pakwach district, who continue to experience declining savings due economic hardship occasioned by the pandemic among its members.
During the weeklong TUI cooperative leaders’ training that ended last Thursday, Robert Mpakibi, the Assistant Commissioner for Cooperatives, advised cooperators to leverage on technology use to mitigate some of COVID-19’s to normal operations of cooperatives.
Dick Byamukama intimated that due to lockdown restrictions on movement, which limited members’ ability to bring savings to Lyamujungu head offices, the cooperative acquired Savings-Plus, software that is currently enabling members make mobile savings from the convenience of their homes, cutting costs on transport.