In 1998, NSARWU received a grant from African Development Foundation [ADF] to the tune of Ug Shs 288,527, 400/=. This was to finance a revolving fund, capacity building in credit and savings management and also natural resource management component.
One hundred and sixty million shillings, earmarked for the credit component has been disbursed into 732 loans, to 26 rural groups in the districts of Tororo, Lira, Wakiso, Kabale, Ntungamo and Mpigi districts. The overall goal was to alleviate poverty or improve household incomes of the clients.
The procedure was to ensure proper client identification, and screening by members. Most of the groups NSARWU worked with were organized and carrying out a variety of economic activities such as petty trade, sale of second hand clothes, fuel wood sale, bakeries, drug shops, hand craft business and animal husbandry projects.
Objectives of the credit scheme:
- To provide credit both in kind or cash to organized groups for income generation projects.
- To promote and facilitate a sustainable savings mobilization scheme.
- To equip clients with skills and knowledge on credit management especially policies and procedures.
- To maintain a recovery rate of 90 - 95% and above if possible.
The micro credit program poses challenges but some beneficiaries improved their income hitherto unrealized. Beneficiaries from Lira, Imaki Ojale group outline the benefits.
" As a result of the knowledge gained from the workshop and the loan given to us, we have benefited in the following ways:
- At least each member has now planted some trees around their homes.
- Each member has at least savings which are contributed monthly.
- The majority are now. able to carry â€¢out simple businesses to raise income.
- Farming techniques have greatly improved compared to the past.
- Preparing nursery beds for seedlings has enabled us to raise income in addition to the petty trade.
- Some members have started plans for better accommodation"
This is not to say the programs are without constraints. Beneficiaries from Lira aqain indicated, the low prices of produce, prolonged drought, the high cost of transportation, and the lack of reliable markets. The Secretariat also suffered heavy administrative expenses because the groups were miles apart and the interest rate was very low, 1.9% per month.
However, more beneficiaries continued to express the positive impact as illustrated below:
Nabosa Madina, from Tulibumu group, Mpigi district, had this to say:
"I was a tailor on the veranda making busutis. I was able to save some money and rent a shop where I could display my busutis. With the loan from NSARWU, I started making school uniforms for a secondary school. The project has helped me to pay school fees".
In 2002, a micro credit program was started again in Mpigi and Wakiso districts after obtaining funds from the Micro Finance Support Project. This program is still ongoing. In the same year, the First Lady was very keen to help the people of Karamoja. We submitted a proposal for Kotido and obtained funds from UNDP to support the Kotido beehive and agro forestry project. This project is also still on going.