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UGA04b - Jinja micro-finance loan programme: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: November 28, 2022

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit

comfortingJohn Vlaming, BHW's agricultural director, and I spent the day with Thomas and Joyce at their home in Njeru, Jinja on 22nd October. Much of the first part of the day was spent giving them space to talk about the issues with the murder of their son Taban Emmanuel on 11 December 2021 and the terrible effects that has had. 

Over the course of the day, we discussed all of the aspects of the ministry and outreach that they are involved in. We had a simple lunch with them and at the end of the day we visited Taban’s grave. It was a very moving day, and I hope that we were able to provide them some support just by our presence. They were certainly grateful that we had gone to the graveside with them.


Recent Events

Micro-loan Programme

good to visitWe had a very extensive discussion about the micro-loan programme but were not able to visit with any of the loan beneficiaries due to time constraints and also the fact that Thomas and Joyce’s new home is some distance away from the church, which is the centre of the loan programme. This programme has limped along for a number of years and most of the capital provided has been dissipated or lost as people have left the area, or died, or simply not paid. However, surprisingly, there are still 15 active members who have loans of various sizes from approximately 100,000 (US$27) to 500,000 UGX (US$135). Although this programme has not gone very well, it was good to see that there are some people who have been faithful and there is a waiting list of people that want loans.

When the group meets there are regular repayments, but they are often very low. It would be reasonably normal to receive approximately 60,000 UGX (US$15) in repayments. There will always be people wanting small loans of approximately 100,000 UGX (US$27). They have been giving these out from the repayments. Joyce is supported by Jacinta, who we have previously met, and who was a trainee from the vocational training programme and apparently is very talented. We were not able to meet her this time. Prior to that Scovia was doing it, and before that Winnie. Winnie has now moved out of the area and is working at the same place that Joyce does. She is no longer involved with the programme, and Scovia proved unsuitable. 

There have been a lot of difficult stories around the micro-loan programme. Thomas and Joyce give training but cannot guarantee that borrowers will not run away with the money as the area that they live in has a lot of refugees and transient people. Joyce talked about one recent woman who received the training and received a 500,000 UGX loan but then immediately ran away with it. However, there are also some good stories. Joyce was very proud that three of the squatters near the church had been able to use their loans to rehouse themselves.

While there is a sense that this loan programme has not worked well for many loan recipients, I was gratified to hear that there were still people who are being faithful, and Thomas and Joyce wish to continue with it. Presently there are 60 inactive members, 45 of whom have remained, with another 15 or so having died or left the area. There is no realistic possibility of receiving repayment from any of these. The position has been massively exacerbated by COVID and the government’s lockdowns which have left all of the beneficiaries really struggling. This is a universal story across the whole of Uganda. The government imposed a devastating 2-year, nearly full-scale lockdown with everyone having to stay at home and everything being closed. We have been absolutely shocked at the severity of this lockdown, which way exceeds anything that we have experienced. 

I advised Joyce to simply accept that the 45 will not be repaying, and effectively write all their loans off. I suggested that she simply continue with the 15 or so people, and any new people, who have proved faithful and keep the programme very small. 


changed lifePersonal Stories

Let’s put this in perspective as this is not a totally depressing story. Joyce talked about Abba, who has now died. The loan programme changed her life. She took a small loan and was able to build a long house which is now rented out. This supports her family, which have survived her.

Joyce also gave details about the mother of Nancy, one of the vocational training students. This mother has a very small stall and has had loans, but she has been faithful and was able to build a house to sustain herself, her husband and family.


Plans for the Future

There was a request for further funding for this programme but I suggested to Joyce that if they wanted to extend the loan programme then they look at a table banking system. Unfortunately it would appear that table banking programmes work best only in rural settings where people are relatively stable and unlikely to run away or default. The advantage of the table banking type system, which has to be registered as a SACCO (Savings and Credit Organisation) is that it is registered with the government and has the clout to take action if someone defaults. Table banking programmes also utilise the members’ fund, not external cash injections. This gives a higher motivation to ensure that payments are made. Apart from training in table banking I do not see any need for further funding to this group, but I would fully support the funding of teaching and training around table banking.


Prayer and Praise Points

1) We have always known that the Njeru slum area was difficult to establish and continue a loan programme in, so we are grateful that there are still faithful loan recipients and there have also been some good stories from previous loan beneficiaries (see previous reports). We should not minimise this. 

2) Several loan recipients have been able to utilise the loans to assist with further vocational training for their children. 

3) For wisdom to know how to proceed in the future, and whether some form of table banking system may be able to be introduced here.

4) For wisdom and timing around when training in table banking might be able to take place.



There is no request for funding at present, but this may change if it becomes possible to run a table banking training conference, possibly next year.