Expanding Access to Microfinance in Uganda

July 18, 2011
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It was 7:30 in the morning the members of Kiwafu (A) microfinance group were gathering for their first group meeting. The group was officially formed two days ago, on the 16th of July 2011. 21 women who lived in the surrounding areas were sitting neatly in a courtyard. For the next four weeks, they will be going through an orientation programme. After the orientation, they will become the newest borrowers under BRAC’s microfinance programme.This group was formed under the newly established BRAC branch in Entebbe. This newly established branch is one of 20 new branches, being set-up as a part of BRAC’s ground-breaking partnership with the MasterCard Foundation in Uganda.

It was 7:30 in the morning the members of Kiwafu (A) microfinance group were gathering for their first group meeting. The group was officially formed two days ago, on the 16th of July 2011. 21 women who lived in the surrounding areas were sitting neatly in a courtyard. For the next four weeks, they will be going through an orientation programme. After the orientation, they will become the newest borrowers under BRAC’s microfinance programme.This group was formed under the newly established BRAC branch in Entebbe. This newly established branch is one of 20 new branches, being set-up as a part of BRAC’s ground-breaking partnership with the MasterCard Foundation in Uganda.

Before setting up the new branches, BRAC staff began conducting a comprehensive survey of selected areas where the branches are located. Its through these surveys, the members of the Kiwafu (A) group learned about BRAC and the services offered by the organization.

There was a lot of enthusiasm among these new members. ‘There have been no other organisations who have come to this area with a package like this’ said one member. Another said, ‘We don’t have to save huge amounts before getting loans’. ‘The group is close to our homes and we don’t need to spend money on transportation’ said another. When asked what they are most excited about, almost all members said ‘This is a chance to expand our businesses’.The members of the group own a variety of businesses. The group leader, Betty has two businesses; a restaurant and a retail store. She knows all too well the need for capital. To set up her restaurant, she had to work hard as a waitress, saving every penny she earned. That was 10 years ago and now that she already has her dream restaurant, she wants to expand it. She has three children and expanding her businesses would help to keep them in school.

‘I also like that they have put their trust in me as a Chairperson’ said Betty as she enjoyed her first day as Chairperson, working together with Prize Niwagaba, a newly recruited BRAC Credit Officer. Prize is learning all her skills from Branch Manager Sylvia Nakaziwe. Sylvia has been working for BRAC for two years now. She was a Credit Officer and the expansion of branches has meant that she, along with other high performing Credit Officers are given the chance to manage new Branches. Throughout the meeting, Sylvia shared her knowledge of BRAC and microfinance with the members. As one of the new members said that she was a qualified nurse, Sylvia was quick to tell her about BRAC’s health programmes. The partnership with MasterCard Foundation will also mean an expansion of other BRAC programmes in health, agriculture, poultry, livestock as well as BRAC’s work with young people, especially girls.All in all there was a sense of excitement in the air. For all there were new opportunities in the horizon. Particularly for Agnes, one of the youngest members of the group, Agnes had started a business selling cassava. Her husband who is a boda (motor cycle taxi) driver gave her the initial capital. But Anges’s dream is to start a saloon. She has already enrolled herself for training and has one month left. With the loan from BRAC, her dream of setting up a salon will finally come true.

BRAC is playing a critical role in expanding access to financial services in Uganda. BRAC is already the largest microfinance provider in the country and through its partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, the organization is taking its services to unreached poor and marginalized communities across the country.
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