World Vision Steering Savings Groups For Refugees In Uganda

Joyce Jokudu a South Sudanese refugee in Ayilo refugee settlement in Adjumani district of Uganda is happy to be part of a women’s savings group initiative by World Vision.

World Vision Steering Savings Groups For Refugees In Uganda
Joyce Jokudu standing infront of her restaurant [Photo credit|Paul Night]

By Paul Night

ADJUMANI, 12 December 2017 [Gurtong]-
She owns a small business where she makes tea among o ther food items for her customers.

She makes cups of tea and meals of beans, fish and rice or beef and Ugali, a traditional Ugandan dish made of corn meal in a busy trading centre.

Her customers are aid worker on lunch breaks, refugees tired of cooking for themselves or young people stopping to linger and chat. Business is booming for Jokudu who has lived in Uganda for more than a year. “I used to operate a small business so I managed to escape with my cooking pan and a few other items. All i needed was some capital to buy food items plus ingredients,” Jokudu said.

When she arrived in Uganda she was single, her husband was killed in the conflict destroying her homeland.  “I found life unbearable here, tasked with taking care of two children and struggling to rely on rations and I saw very many business opportunities but I lacked capital”, she narrates.

When a village saving agent contacted her, Jokudu did not hesitate to enroll in a savings group. “We had a similar savings group back home in South Sudan so I had an idea about how it operates”, Jokudu adds.

She said for the first two months, she had to sell part of her family food ration to contribute to the savings group. “Every week we save 2,500 Uganda shillings per member. “It’s hard to find that money around here because most of the people have no income generating activity. So what most member do is to sell part of their monthly ration”, She said.

And after two months of savings, Jokudu qualified to get a loan of 50,000 Uganda shillings from her 30 member’s strong saving group.

Jokudu also noted that with this money she was able to buy various food items, cooking oil, salt, ingredients and a few plates that she needed to start up an eating place at the market. “I got some free tarpaulin bought a few wooden poles and put up a small structure to act as the eating place for my customers.

After just two weeks of running her joint she managed to clear the loan repayment. On a good day she will make Ug 30,000 Shillings in profit, although most days it’s just Ug 15,000 Shillings and she had plans to take out another loan to expand her business.

World vision identifies and trains village agents in financial literacy saving methodology and business management.

Victor Ajuma, the World Vision resilience and livelihood officer in the West Nile region said the agents are then tasked to move across the refugee settlement to sensitize people and register those who are willing to form groups.

“Refugees and host communities members are asked to form joint savings group of not more than 30 members each. The rationale is that refugees must make up at least 75 group members who are then assessed,” Ajuma said.

He said each group is supported with startup kit passbooks, record books, pens and calculators, stamp pads and rulers. “Members then agree on the amount of money to save per week. The minimum saving per week for each member is Ugx 2,000 Shillings and maximum Ugx 10,000 Shillings”, Ajuma said.

Mary Jada, 54 years old is a single mother of four whose husband was killed in the South Sudan conflict. She also lives here in Ayilo refugee settlement in Adjumani district.

She took 50,000 shillings loan from her savings group. With the money Jada opened up a stall for selling fresh food at the local market. “I was struggling to provide my children’s needs plus to feed them. But now I make a daily net income of at least Ugx 3,500 Shillings. My Children can get books, Pencils, sandals and are able to change their diet once every week” Jada said.

According to Victor Ajuma, there are 60 savings group that have been formed with more than 1800 refugees and host communities members at Ayilo refugees’ settlement. 

“There is a very high demand for more savings group from both refugees and host communities. Our plan is to reach as many people as we can with the limited resources available and we are also looking at linking these groups to private sector entities like banks to enable them access more credit”, Ajuma said.

Between August and November 2017 the total cumulative savings for the 60 groups at Ayilo refugee settlement alone is Ugx 25 Million Shillings only.

A recent livelihood assessment report done by World Vision found that there is a need to promote economic activities among the refugees and host communities to boost income and self reliance.

The report also found out that some of the refugees had shops in South Sudan and thus understand how to run business and the report recommended that interventions to support restarting former livelihood are need to bring the refugees back to self reliance and participate in the market economy.

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