Bumu-Kitanga Women’s Development Group
This project will help the eleven (11) savings group belonging to Bumu-Kitanga Women’s Development Group transform into a savings and credit cooperative society (SACCO) to engage with financial institutions, suppliers and new market opportunities.
Working collectively will strengthen the ability of members to leverage their aggregated savings to access capital and meet the lending needs of their 404 members, including making investments in land, agriculture inputs, labor, distribution and value addition to grow their business incomes.
Bumu-Kitanga Women’s Development Group is based in Masaka District in Eastern Uganda, home to the rich, green coffee growing farming region.
Today, 404 members are organized into 11 informal savings groups with 30 – 40 women per group. The members are primarily composed of farmers who grow coffee, maize and beans.
For more than 10 years, the members of BUMU have engaged in savings and lending activities. Retired nurse (name) organized the first savings group in 2006 when she returned to her home village. Her goal was to use the savings group to bridge the rural financing gap for farmers who lack access to mainstream financial services.
Every Thursday the groups meet to discuss their businesses, markets, even trade goods and conduct their lending activities. They track their activities in a ledger, and the group fund is managed by a group leader, who oversees the lending and pay-back of loans.
While the groups are active, their financial needs far surpass what’s available in their group fund. In a month, each group saves an average of $360, however its members aggregated monthly financial needs are estimated at $1,000.
As a result, the members are unable to increase their farming productivity and make investments in farming methods that are aimed at regenerating the soil and land.
Without access to capital and affordable financing options:
- can not afford inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, transport, and labor
- with critical needs for cash to pay for school fees or food, the women undersell their commodities to middlemen who pay only 25% of the production cost and lose substantial income
During 2015, the 11 savings groups lost more than $3000 after the lock box where they keep their funds was stolen by unscrupulous member. Unfortunately, the members failed to recover the funds because they lacked systems including written policies on how to handle the theft. Failure to recover the funds also resulted from the leaders’ lack of knowledge of their roles and responsibilities.
Besides loss of funds through theft, the 11 savings groups lack information on how to leverage their pooled resources to access credit from financial institutions to help their respective members to access credit for improved productivity and increase farm incomes.
It is against this background that Shared Action Africa is supporting Bumu Kitanga Women’s Development Group to transform into a cooperative in order to address the challenges that the group is facing including inadequate financing for members, poor governance and weak financial systems.
Uganda is endowed with a warm climate, ample fertile land and regular rainfall all of which provide one of the best environments for agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa.
Agriculture has traditionally formed the backbone of Uganda’s economy contributing approximately 37% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Coffee (of which Uganda is Africa’s leading producer) contributes the largest percentage of 19% of the country’s exports.
The majority of the members are farmers of coffee, as well as grow other items, such as beans, maize, cassava and banana. Their plot sizes vary from 1 acre to 5.
Members have taken initiatives to diversify their income by becoming traders of coffee and fish or leasing out their land, while some still work as laborers on others farmland
Through savings groups, we are creating a supported information network that provides:
- agricultural support and services to the members that provide timely information on market prices, supply chain services, and bulking support
- agroecology training
- access to financial services to advance inputs and supplies
- create profiles for farmers using mobile technologies, that collects and records data and monitors it’s goals, supported by advisors