BUSHENYI, January 3, 2024 – Most Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations [SACCOs] in a campaign dubbed ‘Ekiterekye’ gifted best-performing members on the eve of Christmas celebrations.
According to Felix Mugisha, General Manager ISSIA SACCO, giving Christmas gifts was first done by Kyamuhunga People’s SACCO.
“This campaign usually starts during October as people seriously save preparing to celebrate Christmas. While others conduct a quiz targeting big savers, some SACCOs award their members during annual general members,” Mugisha said.
Some of the gifts given include; cows, goats, chicken, bread, soft drinks and cash among others.
Mugisha said that the practice of awarding members has improved the saving culture among the people who now save with the hope of receiving gifts like cash during the end of year.
“In so doing, it has increased our liquidity flow, reducing on external borrowing. During the Christmas season, and the annual general meetings, we normally have enough money to give to our members as loans instead of borrowing from other financiers,” he said.
According to Peter Tumuhimbise, General Manager, Butuuro People’s SACCO in Bushenyi, “Awarding of members has no harm claiming that the money spent on gifts is part of the bonuses earned from the share capital.”
“The cooperative societies Act, 2020 normally tells us about not giving back more than 10 percent of the total share capital as dividends to the members,” he said, adding that rewarding our members who have invested in our SACCOs, is one way of giving back to members.
He said that rewarding prizes shows solidarity, team spirit, and sharing during Christmas.
“Celebrating Christmas with our members is one way of giving back to our communities and it signifies good performance of SACCOs in western Uganda because you cannot give what you don’t have,” Tumuhimbise said.
According to Tumuhimbise, Butuuro People’s SACCO has been rewarding its members for the last 10 years but this time around it decided to use the money to complete the construction of their magnificent head offices in Nyakabirizi.
“Instead of giving them Christmas packages, we decided to complete our building that we are ready to unveil to our members in our coming AGM,” he said adding that, “ We have catered for the coming Christmas package in 2024.”
Benson Nduhura, chairman Besania SACCO in Mbarara City said they chose to reward vulnerable people during festive season under corporate social responsibility that has enabled the SACCO to grow its membership.
“For us here at Besania, we normally give food and drinks to vulnerable members during Easter, Christmas and even during Idi to motivate and encourage them to save. This is a culture which we have developed here at Besania SACCO. It has helped us to grow our membership,” Nduhura said.
By the end of 2023, the SACCO spent about Shs 5 million on rewarding 50 vulnerable members with maize flour, bread and sugar among others.
“This time around through our corporate social responsibility, we gave bread, sugar and posho to 50 members and we spent only Shs 5mln on those food items” he said, adding that we have been getting this money from the environmental protection and capacity building component to empower our vulnerable people since 2011,” Nduhura explained.
He added that the incentive has attracted non-members to join the SACCO thus growing its membership.
“When people hear what we are doing to our members, they always come in big numbers to join and by the time the festival period ends, the membership would have increased,” he said.
However, Nduhura retaliated that rewarding members cash has made some of them to spend unnecessarily instead of saving, thus appealing SACCOs to sensitise their members on mindset change.
“By giving food to our members during the festive seasons, it looks like we are now encouraging them to consume what they have instead of saving because it has now turned to be a bad culture to our members to spend unnecessary,” he said
Nduhura said: “I think next time we shall revise it and change because if we give food items it is like we are encouraging consumption instead of investment. We can contribute to our members to construct houses, buying motorcycles among other developments.”
“If SACCO X rewards its members and another one fails SACCO does not, it means members will run to where they give gifts but that is just mindset. We can sensitise our members to embrace development and focus on big investments rather than running for small gifts and tokens that will keep them in poverty,” he said.
He advocated for SACCOs to focus on health saving campaigns and investments rather than giving food to their members while rewarding them.
“In the forthcoming years, we shall sensitise our members about development instead of giving them money for feasting” adding that, “At Besania SACCO, we have started donating water filters where one can drink clean water using a purifier instead of boiling water by using charcoal that destroys the environment, we also provided water tanks, provide seeds and seedlings to our farmers, which is better than giving foodstuffs during Christmas season.”
He encouraged cooperatives to empower their members through capacity building.
“Our target is to work towards supporting our members to get out of poverty and ignorance. Therefore, as cooperators, we need to put much energy and funds in capacity building, education and sensitisation to teach our members the culture of saving, investing in viable businesses and counselling our members, especially those who are highly indebted,” Nduhura said.
While rewarding members at Mushanga SACCO, the General Manager, Gorden Nankunda challenged the government to get a solution to fluctuating prices of agricultural goods if the farmers are to embrace commercial farming.
“Looking at how farmers are struggling with low returns, it is hard to expect SACCOs to perform well because most of our members borrowed money to invest in tea but with this drastic fall of prices, we don’t expect loans to be paid easily. Therefore, the government should look at how to help our farmers get better prices for their produce,” Nankunda noted.
While rewarding teachers for buying more shares in the SACCO on Tuesday in Bushenyi town, Abias Tusiime, the General Manager noted that there are over 6,000 teachers in Greater Bushenyi on government payroll but only 2,424 have joined the SACCO which portrays bad saving Culture among teachers.
“Mobilise more teachers at your staff quarters so that they can benefit from the Sacco. Let everybody mobilise so that we do not invite non-teachers to buy shares,” she said.
Greater Bushenyi Teachers’ Savings and Credit Cooperative Society began in 2003. Currently it has Shs 1.8 billion loan portfolio, Shs 879mln share capital, Shs 2.6 bln in fixed assets and 2,424 members.
Among other SACCOs that rewarded their members during Christmas include; Bunyaruguru People’s SACCO, Greater Bushenyi Teachers’ Savings and Credit Cooperative, Mitooma People’s SACCO, Igara-Buhweju SACCO, Nyakayojo People’s SACCO, Mwizi SACCO, Kigarama People’s SACCO among others.
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