New Vision (Kampala)

30 January 2013

Uganda: Baayenda Has Made Saving Jinja Women's Main Forte

In the serene village of Naminya on the Jinja-Kayunga Road, Joyce Baayenda sits in the comfort of her living room perusing documents on her activities.

The broad smile on her face as she speaks is a clear manifestation of her kindness and selfl essness. Baayenda's character has, over the years, been a paragon of good tidings for the women in Jinja town, who, through her guidance, have learnt the culture of saving.

Baayenda, 61, has initiated and sustained three of the most successful women saving schemes in the district and perhaps in the region.

The savings schemes are Jinja Mothers' Savings and Credit Scheme (JIMOSACS), Women Awake and Nalufenya Women's Development Group.

Starting JIMOSACS:

Baayenda conceived the idea for women to save for development and self-sustenance after attending a training seminar in Lweza on Entebbe Road in 1996.

She then started St. Andrew's Church Mothers Union Savings and Credit Scheme in 1997 in Jinja. The name was later changed to Jinja Mothers' Savings and Credit Scheme, where she is the treasurer.

Baayenda, who is a retired secretary, says the group now boasts over sh30m in savings. "The initial monthly saving per member was sh10,000," she recalls.

Due to infl ation, Baayenda says they increased the monthly savings to sh20,000. She notes that there are plans to further increase it to sh50,000.

Members have a warm Christmas:

As of November 2012, Baayenda observes, each of the current 16 members had saved sh3,400,000. With the total sum of the savings on the account, the members agreed to start borrowing some of the money for self-development.

"Members now secure loans at an interest rate of 10% and 5% for ordinary and emergency loans, respectively," Baayenda says.

"An ordinary loan involves a lot of money payable within seven months. The highest one can borrow is slightly lower than her total savings.

In case of any default on payment, we take the savings as compensation," she explains. An emergency loan, she adds, involves smaller amounts payable in a month at an interest rate of 5%. At the end of the year, the members share the interest accrued from the loans.

For instance, last year, each member was entitled to about sh400,000. "After deducting operational costs, each got sh350,000, smiling all the way home for a warm Christmas," Baayenda notes with satisfaction.

Associate members:

But even after the members started borrowing, a lot of money remained on the account, prompting members to innovate other ways of making it productive.

"We decided that our family members, for instance, sons, daughters or husbands, become associate members of the saving scheme," Baayenda says. Associate members, she explains, do not save monthly they only pay a sh30,000 membership fee and then access loans at a 10% interest rate, with the principal member as a guarantor.

"At the end of the year, associate members take 50% of the interest accrued from loans and the scheme takes the remaining for the annual distribution to the principal members," Baayenda explains.

JIMOSACS envisages commencing other income-generating projects.

Other savings schemes birthed:

With JIMOSACS steadily ebbing to success, Baayenda's selfl essness did not shove her into complacency she started two more savings groups.

In 2000, Baayenda started Nalufenya Women's Development Group in Nalufenya on Kira Road, where she was the LC2 chairperson.OMEN AWARDS

Each of the 20 members has saved sh2,280,000 as at December 31, 2012 from sh30,000 monthly savings. "Last year, each member walked home with sh451,000 from the interest accrued from loans," explains Baayenda.

The Nalufenya women plan to buy land for development. "In our last meeting, we thought if each member contributed sh500,000 from the savings, we would have sh10m to buy land," Baayenda recounts.

Challenged further by the urgency to economically empower and liberate more women from poverty, Baayenda in 2006 started Women Awake in Jinja. Its savings now total sh1,980,000 per member as of December 20 from sh25,000 monthly savings.

"Each of the members bagged sh256,000 from the interest accrued from the loans last year," Baayenda proudly says.

She notes that Women Awake plans to open up an offi ce that would double as a crafts shop. Several other groups in the district consult Baayenda on how they can operate sustainably.

Group sustainability:

Baayenda attributes the groups' success to the integrity of the members. "Membership to a group is by invitation by a member.

A member who wishes the groups well cannot invite a dishonest person because that member is the guarantor and thus responsible in case anything goes wrong," she explains.

Baayenda says good leadership is equally vital. "Every year, we choose leaders upon observing their abilities.

So even if I left the groups, they would sail on," she proudly says. The bigger picture, according to Baayenda, is that members' children take over, which is why associate membership is encouraged.

Members have no regrets:

Lovisa Kabuula, 65, who has been a member of JIMOSACS for 15 years, is all praises for the scheme. "I have educated my children and we now have a house of our own, courtesy of this scheme," she says.

Through the group, Kabuula notes that she has mastered the culture of productive saving, an aspect missing in most commercial banks.

"My account in one of the commercial banks has about sh20,000, but in the scheme, I have over sh3m," she observes. Harriet Gandi, 48, the current chairperson of JIMOSACS and the deputy head teacher of Victoria Nile School in Jinja, says:

"Without the scheme, I would be leading a miserable life. The members are women of integrity who have nurtured me into a good leader."

Mary Kabuleta, who has been in the group for a year, anticipates sharing ideas for development with the members. "Socially, I have people to fall back to and have productive time together."

In 1987, Baayenda mobilised the wives of Rotarians in Jinja and formed the Inner Wheel Club of Jinja to provide for the poor.

"We, among other activities, planted trees in the town and secured wheel chairs for the disabled using our own collections and lobbying for assistance within the Rotary Club," she explains.

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