Intern, Christine Stenton in Uganda
The past few weeks have been an exciting time here at CAP-AIDS Uganda. As Emma and I move forward with the planning of our micro-projects with CBO partners in Kampala (the Needy Support Center) and Aboke (Aboke HIV Women’s Association), our meetings and brainstorming sessions with these groups have definitely paid off. We initially faced some challenges trying to develop project ideas with such a limited budget; we needed to focus on activities that would build the organization’s capacity, benefit the entire group, and had a consensus among members.
While it hasn’t been hard for group members to think of ways to improve their livelihoods, it has been difficult to develop a project that benefits everyone in the group and takes into consideration the sustainability of the organization and its operational costs (e.g. rent and resources required to carry out its group activities providing home-based care for members affected by HIV/AIDS).
In a meeting with NSC a few weeks ago in Nakawa, Kampala, NSC members discussed some of the difficulties it has had with the structure of their current savings scheme. They explained that it has alienated some members, largely as a result of its unrealistic interest rate (10% per week!). They also explained that there was a lack of transparency with managing the finances as no one at the meeting was aware of how much was in the group savings account or how much they have saved individually. This discussion highlighted how the structure of their current savings scheme was not helping them progress towards their long-term goal of opening a sacco (cooperative) bank account as a group. As a result, it was decided that the project would focus on restructuring the group savings and loans scheme. This will include a training workshop on group savings and loans, and a savings structure that takes into consideration their organization’s capacity building needs when calculating a reasonable and accessible interest rate with a proportion going towards NSC operational costs and the rest going towards that person’s individual savings.
In acknowledgement of the willingness of NSC members to invest in and improve upon their income generating activities and small businesses, the remaining money in the budget will be accessible to members as seed money with the approval of other members of the group. Another training workshop will be provided that focuses on taking out small business loans from group savings.
We are extremely excited that we now have access to our own trainer with CAP-AIDS Uganda’s new program coordinator Lawrence who is based in Lira District. Lawrence has experience running savings and loans and entrepreneurial skills development trainings with other groups and we are very happy to have him and his local expertise on board!