RWAMPARA – April 14 was a day of celebration and a moment of renewed hope for members of saving groups in the Western district of Rwampara after they got the official nod to borrow Emyooga funds.
The district officially launched the presidential Initiative on Emyoga last Wednesday, which opened the access door for saving groups, SACCOs, to get the government’s poverty alleviation funds.
When most SACCOs in the country received Emyooga funds in November and December last year, Rwampara district was pushed on the sidelines.
In March 2021, Emmy Kateera Turyabagyenyi, the Rwampara Resident District Commissioner, reported to the Minister for Microfinance Haruna Kasoro that SACCOs were barred from accessing Emyooga funds in Post Bank where 36 SACCOs had opened bank accounts.
However, on April 14 residents broke out in joyous celebrations at Nyeihanga playground in Nyeihanga town council where 36 Saccos from both counties of Rwampara district were handed certificates –officially giving them the nod to withdraw Emyooga funds to kick-start their projects that had stalled since August last year.
Amon Mutabarura, the Rwampara district commercial officer (DCO), said the delay allowed proper sensitization of members to put money to good use.
He confirmed that Rwampara received Shs 1.4 billion and all the money is already wired to their bank accounts.
“All the 36 SACCOs have gotten the money, it’s already on their accounts and they have all the freedom to withdraw this money,” Mutabarura said.
“What we have achieved is what started in the month of August when the president asked us to go and teach people how to save money through their SACCOs,” he added
In his remarks, the RDC Turyabagyenyi warned; “We are going to monitor them and in case this money we have dispersed today is misused either by an individual or leaders we shall definitely apprehend them. The clients of the SACCO are group members, not individuals.”
Turyabagyenyi said more parish development funds will be disbursed in July 2021 to benefit every parish, which will be receiving Shs 40million per association.
“This money according to the guidelines is basically to empower the parish associations meaning that those which will have been saving with Emyooga SACCOs will benefit more and longer. As long as the SACCOs keep performing well according to the monitoring report they will qualify to get up to Shs 100 million from the Microfinance Support Centre as the lead agency at 8% per annum which will continue flowing every year,” he said.
Vincent Nuwagaba, the DCO Mbarara, reported that the program has already registered some setbacks since it is not intended to aggregate the already existing cooperatives/SACCO issues.
“Emyooga was a good initiative for the president but you see groups at the parish level forming a SACCO and the SACCO operating at a constituency level within the specific 18 Emyooga associations like mechanics but it’s high time government thought about injecting money in the already existing cooperatives in every financial year to increase on their portfolio” Nuwagaba advised
He also bashed Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) for delaying releasing Emyooga certificates.
“The money came on 23rd December 2020 but the certificates have come in April. Count the time wasted since then,” Nuwagaba said.
Andrew Zimbe, the Micro Finance Support Centre (MFSC) Zonal manager southwestern, warned district technical staff to refrain from taking bribes from Emyooga co-operators.
“Some commercial officers in certain districts are taking bribes to clear SACCOs to access Emyooga funds. Don’t do anything before you consult, leave the RDC and the CAO who is your boss to give you updates,” Zimbe said
“I want to congratulate you for having arrived on this day but no association should access a loan without following the guidelines, which are stipulated in the lending policy. Like where I have been before an association goes to access part of the Shs 30million it should have saved 20% with the SACCO,” Zimbe said.
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