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CRS financial inclusion drive in East raises Sh10.6b savings

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The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has ended its four-year drive to expand financial inclusion in eastern Uganda, enabling rural people saving in groups to raise Shs10.6 billion, Elizabeth Pfifer, CRS Uganda Country Director has revealed.

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“Uganda has effectively surpassed its original targets using technical experts and keen commitment of our partners,” Pfifer says of the 6000 savings groups it helped form and train in financial literacy.

In a release Ms. Pfifer said the Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa Project benefited 170,000 people in 17 districts of eastern Uganda where more than 70 percent of the rural population is financially excluded by banks on account of cutting operational costs and low economic activity.

Funded by the MasterCard Foundation, the project was implemented by CRS in partnership with Eastern Archdiocesan Development Network (EADEN) and Soroti Catholic Diocese Integrated Development Organization (SOCADIDO).
The project also linked groups to formal financial services through mobile money, transacting business with MTN Uganda, MicroSave, Post Bank and Centenary Rural Development Bank.

The project, according to the release, enabled the beneficiaries to acquire money management skills through financial education training and increasing productive investments of member groups in the eastern region, which is regarded as the second poorest in the country after the north.

In the release Pfifer also says that the project contributed to women’s economic empowerment in managing household financial resources and enhanced their social capital and social safety nets.

CRS Uganda financial inclusion efforts come at the time when most formal financial institutions in Uganda are unable to reach the country’s poorest people who have a great need to access financial services.

Available information indicates that 62 percent of Uganda’s population doesn’t have access to mainstream financial services, with only four million out of 12 million people who are bankable holding accounts in banks and other financial institutions.

Meanwhile, the CRS Expanding Financial Inclusion in Africa Project which aims at encouraging people in rural areas to save was also implemented in other African countries such as Burkina Faso, Senegal and Zambia, reaching 540,000 people across the four countries.

The CRS is the overseer relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The organisation has been working in Uganda since 1965, addressing humanitarian and development needs focusing on areas of agriculture, emergency response and recovery as well as health.

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