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Masindi SACCO leaders Disagree over Emyooga Savings Requirements

MASINDI -  SACCO leaders in Masindi have disagreed over the 30% savings requirement to access loans from Emyooga SACCOs.

On Wednesday, Joab Businge, the Masindi municipality member of parliament held a consultative meeting with leaders of Emyooga SACCOs in Masindi municipality to ascertain how the program is progressing.

The members of parliament had been directed by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Anita Among to undertake a fact-finding mission to assess the progress of the Emyooga program.

On the whole, Masindi district received Shs 1.6 billion; of which, Masindi municipality got Shs 559 million as seed capital.

According to the report presented by Robinah Nyangoma, the Masindi Municipality Commercial Officer, 18 SACCOs were formed from 453 associations in the entire municipality, adding that so far Shs 257 million has been saved by different SACCOs and Shs 719 million has been disbursed to beneficiaries. She further added that Shs 57 million has been recovered from different SACCOs.

Notably, in the meeting that was held at Masindi municipality gardens; members had divergent perspectives on the issue of the 30% savings requirement for accessing loans from the Emyooga SACCOs.

According to the policy, a member must have saved 30% of the money applied for before their loan application is approved.

Many members argued that this requirement was too much; persons with disabilities complained that the percentage is too much for them to afford, noting that it should be reduced to at least 10%. Others suggested that the requirement be reduced to 20%.

"A lot of money is stuck on our accounts because of this requirement," a member stated.

Jim Agaba from the Masindi Municipality Constituency Saloon SACCO complained that they had no money to raise the percentage required and urged the authorities to reduce the savings requirements to enable people like her to access the money.

However, some members supported the savings requirement of 30% noting that it's compelling the members to improve on their saving culture.

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"The people who are complaining that the percentage is too much are the people who don't want to save. This percentage is helping us grow our SACCOs. It should be maintained for the betterment of our SACCOs. This also acts as security for the members who want to default,” said Isingoma Cleophas, the Chairperson, Masindi Municipality Tailors SACCO.

The disagreement on the percentage has been brought about by different politicians and some program officers who tell beneficiaries uncoordinated information.

Businge, the area member of parliament blamed the leaders and program officers for giving people uncoordinated information, saying that this will lead to the collapse of the program.

"As leaders, we should all speak one language if the program is to yield fruits. As leaders, stop misleading people. Proper information must be given to the people because what we need are positive results. People should stop politicizing this program," said Businge.

Other challenges

Members also complained that some SACCOs have very many associations explaining that the Shs 30 million given to such SACCOs is of no help.

Fatuma Nyangoma, the Treasurer, Masindi Municipality Constituency Producers' SACCO said they are comprised of more than 200 associations explaining that Shs 30 million was like a drop of milk in the ocean.

"We gave out money and it got over. The associations need money but there's nothing and they're active and saving. Rotating around all these SACCOs with only Shs 30 million is not realistic. We pray that the government reconsiders SACCOs with many associations," said Nyangoma.

The members also complained that the lockdown and the prolonged dry spell also constrained their recoveries.

Simon Kyomuhendo also a beneficiary blamed the government for bringing the money at the wrong time saying that the money was brought to them during campaign time.

"Many people treated this money as a thank you. We would receive different politicians mobilizing people to form SACCOs to benefit. Some of them were telling people that the money was free. The propaganda in this program by politicians was too much," said Kyomuhendo.

In his response, Businge promised to report everything as it was put by the members.

"I am going to make a comprehensive report which will be presented to parliament,” said Businge.

The MP promised to meet the veterans, youth, persons with disabilities, and the women separately in the course of this week.

Masindi district as a whole got Shs 1.6 billion which was disbursed to 54 SACCOs across the district and the municipality.

Emyooga is a Presidential Cluster Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation which was introduced in 2019.

The 19 clusters selected to benefit from the program include Boda-boda riders, salon owners, carpenters, and taxi operators, welders, market vendors, journalists, performing artists, mechanics among others.

Under the project, each SACCO is supposed to receive up to Shs 30m to be accessed as a revolving fund by members to boost their respective income-generating ventures, at an interest rate as low as 5% annually.

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