Welcome to the Canadian Co-operative Association's international development blog devoted to the Uganda/Malawi and Ghana coaching programs taking place in January 2011. With volunteers working on the frontline of development, experience the missions through their photos, words and videos.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stepping back in time - Stewart Oke - Uganda

Today we visited the Kagamba SACCO.  They are located in the very most southern part of Uganda, almost bordering on Tanzania.  To get there it was about a 45 minute drive on pavement (or tarmack) as the locals call it, and another 40 minutes down a narrow single lane dirt road which took us deep into the heart of the Uganda.

Street scene outside the credit union
When we arrived we were greeted by Martha, the Branch Manager, and a large contingent of the Board.  The existing branch building is extremely small and very cramped.  The SACCO has recently purchased  some land further up the road, so we head over there to have our meeting with the board.  We are the first coaching team the UCA/CCA has sent to Kagamba and everyone was so gracious for our interest in the little SACCO.  The meeting last for about 2 hours and we discussed some of the high level challenges that Kagamba is facing.  These include membership growth, loan delinquency, board succession planning, new loan growth, new building costs, and lack of electricity….you see Kagamba has no power at all in the village…only small generators and solar panels.
A future credit union member?
After our board meeting, we headed back down the branch to meet with the staff and learn how they operate their SACCO.  With no electricity and no computers, everything is entered the long way…using GL’s and loan binders.  This is very time consuming and requires a significant amount of man-power each day.  A simple software program and reliable electricity would make their lives so much easier.  We really noticed how far back in time we had stepped and essentially experienced how all Credit Unions in Canada, including Servus Credit Union, would have initially started their operations.  It was really interesting to experience.
Tomorrow we will go back and learn more about their business model as well as visit a couple of local farmers and maybe even a coffee plantation.

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