Youth Leading the Way: Taking Access to Finance to their Community
“Your wealth is our pride”. This is the slogan for the Ayer United Youth Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) in Kole District, Uganda. In March 2019, 30 youth led by Chairperson Moses Amoki took their Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) to the next level. Now one year later with 588 members, over 7M Ugandan Shillings in share capital, 11.6M in revenue and over 25M loans given, Ayer United Youth SACCO is the premier financial service provider in the area.
Eighty-five percent of the SACCOs members are youth. Having been excluded from traditional formal banking services, young people and their community alike, are finally able to access credit for starting and growing their businesses and covering school fees. Interest from the community at large is growing and five local schools want to establish accounts with the SACCO, which will drum up more business. According to Amoki, “[the] community realized the benefits of coming together”.
To meet this growing demand, Amoki and the board members are investing in getting electricity wired to the SACCO and buying computers (they currently only have one laptop). Their ambition is impressive. They want to grow to 1,500 members by December 2020. The SACCO is also a local employer of young people. So far, it’s hired a receptionist and two loan officers, and the Chairperson receives a stipend. The SACCO also understands the importance of gender balance and its leadership reflects this. Of its 9 board members, 3 are young women; in the SACCO’s supervisory committee, 1 of 3 of its members are female; 1 out of 3 of its vetting committee is a young woman; and 3 of the 9-member loans committee are young women. Amoki says, “there’s transparency whenever women are in leadership”.
Amoki and his fellow SACCO founders were brought together as a Youth Association under the Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (YETA)project implemented by NCBA CLUSA in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. Their Youth Association and VSLA is still doing well.
They’ve saved over 9M Shillings this year and their group assets have grown from the initial 10-goat grant from YETA to 32 goats.
They are due to receive a further 20 goats and five pigs from the District government. They received training in agribusiness and entrepreneurship, financial literacy, life skills, and group governance. This training provided them with the foundation they needed to start the SACCO. Moses credits the governance training with their confidence to launch such a well-run SACCO. It’s hard to deny their business mindset as they take their ventures to even greater heights.
Their decision to start a SACCO was entirely their own. Seeing the need for financial services in their community (there is no bank within 50 km radius of where they lived) and the eventual end of project support, Ayer United Youth founding members knew that they needed long-term access to credit. YETA staff guided them through the process and provided mentorship, but the youth led the way.
For more information on how the YETA project is helping youth in Northern Uganda access affordable finance, see the Learning Question Research Brief on How is Financial Inclusion Supporting Youth Empowerment.