Source: East African Business Week
The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) under their Savings and Credit Cooperative Society, Wazalendo, has been advised to invest in more productive activities such as agriculture if they are to get a return on investment.
Established eight years ago, Wazalendo Savings and Credit Cooperative Society has grown its savings from Ushs 238 million in 2005 to Ushs23 billion shillings with a total of over Ushs90 billion shillings loaned out to members.
Speaking during the SACCO’s 6th Annual General Meeting at the UPDF Engineering Brigade head office in Lugazi near Kampala last week, Col. Joseph Musanyufu the head of the SACCO said the association was on its way to achieving its objectives.
« Wazalendo was started to enable marginalized persons in the army like the Privates who are earning a small salary access financing for their various projects so as to enable them become productive and move up the financial ladder and hop out of poverty », he said.
He however cautioned that much as over Ushs 90 billion had been lent out so far, they were yet to see the significance of the funds.
« Demand for the loans has rapidly shot up and yet we are not seeing what these loans are doing for our members. This is why we have strategically chosen the theme of this AGM (Financial education, a vehicle to financial freedom) to enable soldiers get financial training because that has largely been lacking », Musanyufu said.
Mr. Dennis Aliga, the Chief Executive Officer of DMA Capital Group who was a guest speaker advised the soldiers to borrow relevantly with the objective of investing in productive ventures.
« The expanding regional market has brought together about 144 million people, add that to South Sudan and the DRC and you have a ready market, » he advised. « Consider agricultural land acquisition by the SACCO for its members so as to achieve economies of scale of production. »
He further advised the SACCO to become a source of institutional funding, lending for primary production to be supplemented by value addition. He said this will mainly give additional funding to members. Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Commander of Defence Forces, said much as the SACCO had accumulated the funds, the army needed to learn how to properly utilize the funds.
« We had been on the look out for a SACCO larger than ours so that we could learn from them but failed to find one. So we have to take the lead and that is why we have decided to begin with financial training », he said.
The current membership of the SACCO according to statistics from the records stands at 65,741 and is open to members of the army ‘family’; UPDF and Ministry of Defence employees.
The SACCO charges 13% interest rate on loans meant for agricultural projects and 15%for others.