As part of the MicroLead project, MEDA worked with UGAFODE Microfinance in Uganda to provide a safe and regulated savings environment for their clients.
Owen Mugyerwa has worked at the UGAFODE Lyantonde branch for over a year. While he started as a sales and marketing officer, he now serves as one of the branch’s credit officers. Before working at UGAFODE, Owen worked at both Stanbic and Crane Bank as a contract employee, but he is much more excited about his permanent position at UGAFODE and the security he now has.
When he joined UGAFODE, the branch was piloting GroupSave, the new savings product for informal savings groups. To mobilize clients, Owen has travelled far from his branch to meet with village groups and discuss the benefits of GroupSave. He says, “GroupSave is a good product. It spreads the idea about savings to rural people. In a village, people think the bank will steal our money, but after sitting with someone for three hours and explaining what the bank is, they feel comfortable saving their money there.”
As part of the MicroLead project, Owen has participated in two MEDA trainings that have helped him with his work, GroupSave and savings mobilization. The training helped Owen better understand the dynamics of savings groups and the important role of signatories for groups. He has been enthusiastically promoting and selling GroupSave since.
Owen has found that his approach to engaging with groups and telling them of the benefits of GroupSave has evolved in response to the savings group dynamics. He is quick to point out that it has been a difficult journey, saying that on his first visits, “People understood the idea of the account, but it was hard for them to make a decision. I had to answer their questions and address their concerns so they could think about signing up for the account.”
He found that the MEDA training on savings mobilization helped him to reach and talk to GroupSave members, though. He says, “Many people wanted to sign up for the accounts, but a few with loud voices did not want the accounts. So I had to work with the groups to encourage them to feel secure in signing up.” In follow-up, he has learned that members and signatories are actively using their accounts. “The treasurer is motivated to save more money than the group members.” When people have mentioned the distance to the branch, Owen tells them about the convenience of AirSave.
Owen’s efforts have contributed to Lyantonde becoming one of the strongest branches for GroupSave during the pilot.