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WSACCO opens 10th branch in Fort Portal City

FORT PORTAL CITY, March 19, 2024 – In a bid to bring services closer to its members, Wazalendo Savings and Cooperative Society Limited [ WSACCO ] has opened its 10th cash branch in Fort Portal City.

According to Maj. Gen. Sam Kavuma, Chairperson of WSACCO Board of Directors, their members mainly in Rwenzori and Tooro sub-regions, who are mainly soldiers of Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] now don’t have to spend hours lining up in banking halls to get financial services.

“After realising how our people [WSACCO members] were struggling to access services, we said let’s have our own branches,” Kavuma said yesterday.

He said the new WSACCO branch will carry out financial literacy trainings for small SACCOs in Tooro region so that they can also grow to serve their members better.

He encouraged members to utilise the branch and get out of poverty and be counted among the 61 percent of Uganda’s population claimed to be in the money economy.

“According to research by government, 39 percent of Ugandans are not in the money economy and that’s why it [government] came up with Emyooga and Parish Development Model [PDM] programmes to help these people [who are in the subsistence economy] to join the money economy,” he said.

The army general said Emyooga programme mainly targets people who with skills to do something, adding that government has given them seed capital to begin or boost their businesses, thus contributing to job and wealth creation.

He said the PDM on the other hand targets the active poor Ugandans who have land for agriculture but don’t have capital, with government providing Shs 1 million to each beneficiary of the programme to engage in commercial production.

Kavuma revealed that for the 18 years WSACCO has been in existence, it has a financial base of Shs 2.4 trillion, making it one of the richest SACCOs in the country where financial cooperatives are grappling with governance challenges.

He encouraged members to utilise loans to improve their welfare and household incomes.

On his part, WSACCO Chief Executive Officer, Col. Joseph Freddy Onata said part of the building that hosts the Fort Portal City branch will be rented out to help the SACCO earn an extra income.

He said the latest branch was built on the WSACCO’s own land, and will be used as a benchmark for other projects to be undertaken in the future.

He called for strong partnerships with commercial banks to serve people better. “We need to improve what we are doing and build strong partnerships with commercial banks so that we are able to serve our people in better. We need to emphasise the issue of promoting a savings culture, and proper use of the services that we have through education and training,” Onata said.

Onata noted that WSACCO’s mandate is executed through three pillars namely creating financial independence, supporting members to engage in wealth creation and promoting financial literacy among the members. He highlighted protecting members from exploitation by other financial service providers as WSACCO’s other focus area.

He clarified the SACCO won’t become a commercial bank because through strategic partnerships with the banks, its members are already enjoying better services.

“Since this is our 10th branch we need to emphasise the issue of convenient services to the members, and promoting the savings culture through education and training,” said Onata.

The commander of land forces, Lt. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga who was the chief guest commended WSACCO for opening a new cash branch, saying it’s a sign that the SACCO is expanding hence improving the welfare of soldiers.

He remarked that 18 years of WSACCO’s existence is a success story.

Muhanga lauded the founders of WSACCO, particularly the late Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and Gen. Kale Kayihura, saying the initiative has not only transformed the lives of the UPDF personnel, adding that the same is critical when it comes to retirement of the army officers.

WSACCO CEO, Col. Joseph Freddy Onata interacting with other senior UPDF officers during the opening of the SACCO’s 10th branch in Fort Portal City on Monday (Photo by Scovia Atuhaire).

He described the SACCO as the new face of the UPDF and asked leaders, and other key stakeholders to guard it jealousy.

The Deputy Commander of the UPDF Mountain Division Brig. Gen. Stephen Mugerwa thanked the Wazalendo family for the clear strategic direction and endurance to serve the soldiers. He pledged to continue supporting WSACCO branch even when it has been moved outside the barracks.

On his part, the Secretary for Works, Fort Portal City Central Division, Ndamira Joseph Musirikale lauded the UPDF for not only keeping peace and guarding the nation’s borders but also engaging in the financial literacy and development of Uganda.

He thanked WSACCO in particular for establishing a new branch in Fort Portal City, saying it is already generating tax revenue for the city council.

The new branch will serve WSACCO members from districts of Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Kibaale, Kabarole, Kasese, and Bundibugyo, but also and serves soldiers who are in Congo for Operation Shujja.

The nine other cash operating branches of the SACCO include; Bombo, Jinja, Mubende, Entebbe, Kampala City, Moroto, Gulu, Mbarara and Singo. Like Fort Portal City branch, Entebbe, Kampala, Moroto, Gulu and Mbarara cash branches are outside the barracks.

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