As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.
Mugagga Sekyanzi, 26, is a born entrepreneur. Beginning with his organic sugar business at age 13, he has invested and reinvested his experiences and resources into the business he manages today, Mugagga Industries Uganda Ltd.
“I failed 100 times plus. Other people started laughing at me, saying, ‘You know, now, you have failed 100 times. Why don’t you give up?’ But for me, whatever mistake I did, it was a step forward in my sight. I would discover one way that does not work. If I make 100 mistakes, it means I have discovered 100 times which would not work.” Now based in Mhoro, he manufactures and supplies a diverse portfolio of products, including soap, jelly, organic sugar, perfume, and eucalyptus.
Mugagga has embraced technology for his business, regularly transacting with customers and suppliers using mobile money services. His wholesale customers usually pay him with mobile money because they are located far from him. However, as he found out a few months ago, using MTN Mobile Money can put him at risk of not being able to access his money when the network is down. After he had gone to Kampala to do his shopping, Mugagga was unable to buy his supplies since his funds were on his mobile money account.
“I spent two days with no network and yet, I had to go shopping. That is when I saw Mr. Emma, UGAFODE’s Kagadi branch sales & marketing officer. He was asking, ‘Why is it today you have not gone for shopping?’”
Emma explained the benefits of saving at UGAFODE and the AirSave platform, which seemed to be the perfect solution to Mugagga’s problem. He immediately opened an account at UGAFODE and registered on AirSave.
Now, Mugagga deposits on AirSave almost every two days because of the frequent payments from his customers. He can transfer the mobile money received from his customers immediately into his account and access it at any UGAFODE branch. And AirSave is much more economical than the cost of boda-boda travel between Mhoro and Kagadi.
To make the most of AirSave, Mugagga maps out the mobile money agents nearby and monitors the float they carry (cash or electronic money). He uses these agents to deposit cash into his mobile money wallet to be transferred into his UGAFODE account, or to withdraw cash after transferring money from his UGAFODE account to his mobile money wallet.
The map helps him to quickly identify and locate an agent with enough float for his desired transaction. While some users find the mobile banking platform process a bit long and complex, Mugagga appreciates the multiple confirmation points because it helps him double-check transactions and reduce errors.
AirSave complements Mugagga’s financial goals – both personal and business. It keeps his business running smoothly and provides him the discipline to protect his profits and not be tempted to use them for personal consumption. Instead of having money on a mobile money wallet or cash in his pocket, he immediately moves his business revenues to his UGAFODE account to reinvest in his business. Now he is more confident about managing his finances and that business growth will lead to personal growth.
“Money is a temptation. As soon as you receive 100,000, your friend will be sick and you will have cash at hand. Really, can you fail to give that friend money? But the moment you receive it in your account, you transfer to the bank [with AirSave]. You can tell your friend, ‘I moved it to the business money.’
“With AirSave, you get your money, then send it to the bank. You sit down and figure out what you want to withdraw and for what. When it comes to planning, it helps a lot. Now, profits have increased because withdrawals have been reduced.”
Mugagga plans to use AirSave with his business partners for the new business account he has opened at UGAFODE. The impact of AirSave on his life has turned him into a strong advocate for UGAFODE because he wants to see others benefit and thrive from this technology.