President Museveni believes that if the Emyooga program is well managed with a clear strategy, it has the capacity to transform Uganda into a money economy.
Emyooga, a presidential initiative was rolled out in 2019 as part of the broad government strategy aimed at lifting at least 68 percent of Ugandans from subsistence to market-oriented production through wealth and job creation.
It is intended to support 18 categories among which include; market vendors, welders, taxi drivers, carpenters, boda-boda riders, women, performing artists and restaurant owners who come together in the form of Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOs).
While meeting Emyoga Regional Coordinators at state House Entebbe, the President urged Emyooga beneficiaries to specialize and concentrate on their product so that they join the business of import substitution and export promotion in addition to just borrowing and returning the money.
“So that they stop us from importing. Where are the products? For instance, we shall say; Don’t import furniture anymore because the Emyooga people are now producing enough furniture for the country and they’re now beginning exporting to somewhere else,” Mr. Museveni said.
The President said SACCOs should not only be borrowing and returning but also developing that product the group is engaged in and then the government will have to market the product internally and externally.
The Minister of State for Microfinance and Small Enterprises, Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune, said although the program is intended to fight poverty which cannot be fought in a day, the team of coordinators deployed countrywide is engaged in continuous preaching to achieve the desired objective.
He said the program has been embraced countrywide.
“Even opposition Members of Parliament cannot miss when we are in their area because many beneficiaries have embraced the saving culture and are giving successful testimonies,” Minister Kasolo said, adding that a total of 4,114,200 Ugandans have embraced the saving culture and are actively mobilised in small associations and SACCOs (6,748) at parish level.
“As we speak today, a total of 72 billion shillings has been mobilized as savings courtesy of this program. Initially they didn’t understand it but now they feel it’s their program and are appreciating you,” Minister Kasolo told the President.
He further informed President Museveni that they intend to officially launch the program in November this year at Kololo Independence grounds where beneficiaries across the country will exhibit their products.
“We want you to see with your own eyes Your Excellency,” Minister Kasolo remarked.
Each Parish Sacco receives a revolving seed capital of 30 million shillings as startup fund and many have grown this fund to a tune of 300 to 400 million shillings and many are no longer going to money lenders to get credit, according to Kasolo.
He added that they have a proposal to elevate and upgrade the Microfinance Support Centre into a People’s Microfinance Development Bank where each Mwooga (sacco groups) will be a shareholder.
The executive director for the Microfinance Support Center-MSC, Mr. Peter Mujuni said the most exciting experience about the Emyooga is that it has stimulated the saving culture among the poor.
“Originally, we thought the poor cannot put money together but actually they can if they’re given good guidance and direction.We are excited about the saving experiences that we have seen in the rural communities,” Mr. Mujuni said, adding that the tremendous success has been registered in areas where they have had good leadership in the communities and SACCOs should be guided on picking the right leaders.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi said the ministry has observed that the performance of Emyooga has improved and they will continue supporting them.
The Emyooga initiative is financed by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development through the Department of Microfinance. The Microfinance Support Centre Ltd (MSC) is responsible for the planning, management, budgeting, reporting and accountability of all funds disbursed for the programme, including disbursements to the groups.
The meeting was also attended by among others; the Deputy Executive Director of the Microfinance support centre-MSC, Mrs. Hellen Petronilla Masika, the Chairperson Emyooga coordinators, Mrs. Ritah Namuwenge and other regional coordinators some of whom gave successful testimonies about the performance of the program in their areas.