• Emyooga wealth creation initiative: what you need to know

According to the finance ministry, the total budget for the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) is sh260b.
Mary Karugaba
Journalist @ New vision
According to the finance ministry, the total budget for the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) is sh260b.

On Wednesday, Parliament approved sh170b for Emyooga funds as part of the 3.7 trillion supplementary budget, which was passed.

According to the finance ministry, the total budget for the Presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job Creation (Emyooga) is sh260b. So far, sh150b has been released. The initiative has generated excitement around the country, but many people do not know the criteria of accessing the money.

While launching the Emyooga programme in Makindye division, a Kampala suburb on Monday, Haruna Kasolo, the state minister for microfinance, asked local leaders to explain what they understood by the term Emyooga and what their expectations were of the project.

Shocking answers were given. Many defined it as money given to Ugandans by President Yoweri Museveni to help them fight poverty. When it came to the responses on what their expectations were, some even said they had come to pick the money.

No wonder the most frequently asked question during the meeting was: When will the money be disbursed? This is the same question almost everywhere.

"We want the money. When are we getting it," someone shouted from the audience.

At Parliament last week, MPs on the budget committee complained to planning state minister David Bahati about the slow disbursement of the funds. Committee chairperson Amos Lugoloobi said whereas there has been a lot of publicity about the programme, beneficiaries have not yet received money.

"You are slow with the disbursement. You over-publicised the programme, marketed it so well, all the citizens at the village level know about this programme, but nothing is happening. People are now complaining and have lost patience," Lugoloobi said.

He said the programme has become an issue during campaigns as many citizens were putting them (aspirants) on pressure to explain where the money is.

Kasolo said disbursement of the money is expected as soon as sensitisation about the project is concluded this week.

What exactly is Emyooga?

"Let us first get to know all about Emyooga programme, its objectives and how it works. Otherwise, if you do not understand it, you will not benefit from it. I do not want it to collapse like some of the other wealth creation projects," Kasolo said.

Kasolo said Emyooga is a Runyankore word meaning a group of people doing the same thing. The Emyooga programme is a presidential initiative on wealth and job creation. The programme targets Ugandans, especially in the informal sector, that come together in form of savings and credit co-operative societies.

It was launched in August last year by President Museveni as part of government efforts to improve household incomes. The project is aimed at promoting job creation and improving household income of 68% Ugandans in subsistence agriculture.

Who is eligible?

Kasolo said the Emyooga programme is for all active Ugandans above 18 years. These include bodaboda riders, taxi drivers, restaurants owners,welders, market vendors, women entrepreneurs, youth, people with disabilities, journalists, performing artistes, veterans, fishermen and elected leaders.

"I have been receiving complaints that there are some groups that were left out. Let us first deal with these and see how it works out and then we will add on more groups," he said.

The funds

The project estimate is sh260b, but according to Kasolo, the finance ministry has so far released sh150b to the Microfinance Support Centre, the disbursing agency. The money is ready but beneficiaries need to first be trained and also open bank accounts.

"Unlike in the past where we would send the money to districts, this time the money will be sent directly to the group's bank account. The signatories to the account will be the chairperson, secretary and treasurer," Kasolo added.

Kasolo explained that in order to inculcate a culture of savings for sustainability of the association, each individual member will be required to make regular savings with the association registered by the office of the district community development officer and then issued with a standard constitution template, customised to suit the different Emyooga groups.

Amounts per SACCOS

Each of the first 17 Emyooga-specific SACCOS will receive sh30m per constituency per SACCOS as seed capital, while the elected local leaders' constituency SACCOS will receive sh50m per constituency per SACCOS.

The private schools teachers' SACCOS will receive sh60m per constituency per SACCOS.

Target area of operation

To benefit, one must be registered under a SACCOS at constituency or parish level. However, in Kampala, given the nature of businesses, the SACCOS will be within the place of work, for example, taxi parks, bodaboda stages, markets and offices.

The members must be involved in one of the Emyooga targeted categories. The minimum number of members in each association is seven and maximum is 30.

Kasolo, however, said in case members exceed 30; the same group shall split into other groups of 30 members.

"However, in cases where members are less than seven, they are free to join a SACCOS of a similar enterprise in the nearby parish," Kasolo said.

Although registration of the Emyooga SACCOS or association is free, each member will be required to pay a subscription fee of sh10,000.

Registration

The acting executive director of Microfinance Support Centre, Petronika Hellen Masika, while speaking at the launch of the programme in Makindye and Rubaga, said 64,751 associations and 1,373 SACCOS for Emyooga had so far been formed.

Masika said by December, all the districts will have Emyooga SACCOS as planned, adding that they have moved and launched the programmes in all districts of Uganda and will end with Wakiso.

"We shall be done with Kampala in Kawempe and Kampala central by end of this week. The process of registration and formation is ongoing," Masika said.

"People should expect money next week, we wanted to first finish the launch in Wakiso, which is the last district, and then disburse it," Masika added.

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