“You are doing a great job but your savings is exposed to the highest risk of being robbed or burnt since you are saving the money in a grass thatched house. Please stop it and open up an account in the bank,”
PIC : Serere woman MP Hellen Adoa launching the distribution of the money saved by the 73 members of Aup Akwap savings group in Serere district. Photos by Godfrey Ojore
SERERE- Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCO), is not a new thing in all villages in Teso. It’s also not new in other parts of the county.
A SACCO, is owned, governed and managed by its members who have the same common bond.
It was 9:45am on a Thursday morning that Gladys Apimo emerged from her grass thatched house carrying a metallic box locked with two padlocks.
The box looked ordinary in the eyes of the visitors but not to the residents of Abululu village, Okidi parish, Pingire sub-county in Serere district.
The box was the safe for Aup Akwap savings and credit group. The group has 73 members drawn from various villages in Pingire parish.
The grass thatched house that belongs to Apimo acts as their ‘bank’ as well as Apimo’s bedroom where the group has been keeping their savings for the last one year.
The four year old group had invited their area MP, Hellen Adoa to witness the distribution of the savings to the members after one year of saving.
The metallic box contained sh59m that the group had saved in the last 12 month. The members of the group and the community of that village were all aware of Apino’s house being a ‘bank’ of such a large sum of money.
“Is that not tempting the thieves by keeping such monies in a grass thatched house? Which means of security do you have at night and even during day when you are not at home? These were questions that MP Adoa asked the group’s leaders.
The response of the group’s chairman Patrick Mukeda was amazing. “We elected amongst ourselves security people that we trust to provide security,” Mukeda said as Adoa looked at him in disbelieve.
The security people the chairman was referring to included a lady and a youth who all live a short distance from the ‘bank’ that they should be guarding.
The cashers counting the money before distribution
Though Adoa was excited by the initiative of the people in her constituency to embrace savings, she was concerned over the security of the savings of her people.
“You are doing a great job but your savings is exposed to the highest risk of being robbed or burnt since you are saving the money in a grass thatched house. Please stop it and open up an account in the bank,” Adoa said.
She even offered to link the group with the bank and also open for them an account so as to ensure that their savings are safe.
“I salute you for prioritising savings and for that matter I offer you sh1m to your SACCO as a start-up since you are going to distribute the money you have been saving,” Adoa said a mid-cheers from the members.
According to Sliver Ebulu the loans officer, the members have been saving weekly between sh2,000-10,000.
The profit of the previous years was invested towards buying plastic chairs for hire while some was used for buying goats for the members.
“We have managed to buy each member a goat out of our profits and our chairs continue brining us money,” said Joseph Areke one of the loans officers.
Members recounted the benefits of savings and acquiring credit at the lowest interest rate as compared to other financial institutions in the country.
“If it was not because of this SACCO, we would be in trouble since the entire Serere has no bank that we can run to borrow,” said Okiria Ben, a member.
The group consists of peasants who have borrowed money to venture into poultry keeping, commercial farming and small businesses.
Though Aup Akwap savings group was jubilating over their savings, Opiyai credit and savings group in Soroti district are in tears.
Unknown gunmen attacked their ‘bank’ and robbed sh11m and also shot the owner of the home.
Angela Amaso, met her fate on the November 1 when unknown gunmen attacked her and her husband Joseph Abukopur, the treasurer of the SACCO.
“We started receiving the money that people credited from the SACCO because we were preparing to divide it amongst ourselves,” Abukopur said.
He was put on gunpoint at night. Since he was together with his wife, she offered to pick the money to protect her husband from being killed.
“One of the men escorted my wife inside where we had kept the money. After giving them the money one of their commanders ordered the man holding the gun to shot my wife,” a teary Abukopur said.
She was lucky to survive but she was shot in the left arm. She was admitted to Kumi Orthopedic Hospital for a week.
“People should desist from keeping large sums of money in their houses because thugs can attack them and runway with cash,” advised the police spokesman, Kyoga East Michael Odongo.