“Most people cannot progress in life because they lack financial discipline and they allow money to manage them instead of them managing the money”, noted Ms. Grace Ebito, of Dokolo District. “Take for instance; a number of people will testify to purchasing piles of things which they have never used, little do they know the financial implication this has on them,” she added.
As Grace put it, money and money talk is almost taboo in our society, especially when we consider the fact that Africa gets into contact with currency at a later stage in comparison with other continents. As ACFODE, we felt the immerse gravity of dealing with stereotypes concerning money and financial discipline. Henceforth, we embarked on a journey of sensitizing communities on money and money issues through a series of trainings that we carry out in different districts. These trainings have helped to improve citizenry financial knowledge base and boosted the economic life of many women and girls.
From 5th to 6th July, ACFODEconducted a two-day training at Grand pacific hotel-Lira forchairpersons, secretaries and treasurers of 12 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) from Apac and Dokolo Districts with the aim of facilitating and sustaining economic growth and efficiency.
The training, which focused on financial literacy, investment and financial inclusion, attracted 40 participants, 14Males and 26females from the six sub-counties of Akokoro, Chegere and Ibuje sub counties in Apac District and: Bata, Kangai sub counties in Dokolo District. During the training, participants from all the 12 VSLA groups shared their experiences on income generating activities that they had initiated, the achievements made and how they have been able to increase the share value of their stamps and capital loan fund.
The chairperson of Obanga Kura Child mother’s group,Ms. Lilly Acungu from Akokoro sub-county Apac District pointed out thatbefore ACFODE’sintervention, their minimum savings was 1000/= and the maximum was 5000/= ,however, after the involvement,group members managed to initiate a number of Income Generating Activities (IGA) such as production, buying &selling of fish, as well as bakery.
As such this increased the weekly saving share value of their stamp to a minimum of 2000/= and maximum of 10,000/=.
In 2015, the group received 1,000,000/= as grant from ACFODE and during share out last year 2016, members were able to leave600,000/= and added it to the ACFODE grant to sum up to 1,600,000/= as loan capital.
The group is also involved in group farming, specifically inanimal husbandry and cultivationand this is their main source of income from which they are able to maximize savings.
Participants also shared experiences on investments and which financial institution they preferred to borrow money from incase they wanted to invest for the future. Most participants preferred borrowing money from banking institutions and in particular Centenary Bank given their low charges.
“I would only borrow money from centenary bank because they really serve the interest of the farmers by providing agricultural loan and giving home improvement loan at a very low interest rate,” said a participant from Dokolo District.
Additionally, one of the participants highlighted some of the challenges people get when they rush into conducting investment, “My brother was awarded a contract to supply maize and beans at St. Margret primary school for one (1) year. But the head teacher who was in charge was transferred to another school before he could be fully cleared. So when the new head teacher came, he declined paying my brother’s money due to lack of proper documents showing how the maize and beans was supplied. This forced my brother to seek legal redress in court and after a long legal battle the court ordered the school to pay him in installments,” narrated a participant.
Participants were duly encouraged to always keep record of all their transactions to avoid such scenarios and for any future reference. They were also reminded to always distinguish between investments and obligation, for instance paying school fees was cited as notbeing an investment but an obligation.
As the training came to an end, representatives of financial institutions that were present such as: Centenary Bank, Finca and Brac were given an opportunity to make presentations highlighting the services they offered and what opportunities were in place for VSLA groups and individual members in their respective institutions.
ACFODE emphasized that the essence of bringing the representatives of financial institutions was to link the participants to the banks and make them know the available services offered and opportunities that they can utilize.