Introducing Microfinance to URF Women’s Group
During the February Women Empowerment Meeting, the women requested URF to provide training on saving and borrowing.
URF under the women project organized a training session for the women which was done by Micro Enterprise Development Network (MedNet). This is microfinance group is affiliated with World Vision and they have branches around the country. They honored our request and came and trained the women.
50 women attended this training session. They were taught how to get loans, and also they also learned about collateral since this has been their biggest fear that some of them do not own land or any property that is of much worth so they would not have collateral to give. They were told that collateral is not a big issue but it is collective responsibility and the commitment that matters and that for someone to be given a loan, they would have to state why they need the loan and to determine if they are able to repay back the loan in the agreed time.
On the 4th of April, another training session was organized for the women by URF but this was conducted by another organization called the Swedish Development Center in collaboration with the government of Uganda. They came up with a rural banking, loaning and saving method that is largely grass root based initiative. This is called Co-save. 55 women attended.
In Co-save, the women are able to save and to get small loans with little interest. A Co-save consists of 15-35 members. Three funds are set up: The Emergency Fund ( each member agreed that they would contribute 500 for this fund), The Shares Fund ( Each member is required to buy shares and each share costs 2000, these shares are your savings), the Fine and Regulations Fund ( This fund is in line with the rules of Co-save that were agreed on by all members for example if someone comes late they are to pay 200, if you are caught talking during the Co-save session you are to pay 1000, and if you are caught gossiping , you are to pay 5000, for the first time, the second time you are chased from the group).
The members meet twice to give Loans to those who need them, and to receive money from those who are paying back the loan money. If someone fails to pay back the loan, then it is called LOAN ROLLOVER; you are given the same loan back and your interest rate doubles).
All members are required to get a loan at a certain time so that your shares do not build up so much! So even if you do not want a loan you are forced to get one! But no one does not want a loan; the list is always long for those who need a loan and is issued, you are given a due date to return it and two members are responsible for you bringing back the loan.
Every after two months members meet and they are given some of the money from the savings, but if you do not want the money you can choose not to take it.
There is leadership that is accountable and members make their own constitution governing their Co-save. They also reserve the right to terminate someone from a leadership position if they think she is not working well.
The women preferred this (Co-save) to the first training (MedNet) and they agreed that they would start their own Co-save into the project and that it was not compulsory for everyone but those who are interested. They agreed to meet on the 6th of this month (April) to set up a leadership team and the constitution.
60 women will be involved in the program.