26 January 2014

Uganda Gets First Women Bank

Kampala — President Yoweri Museveni said the biggest challenge for growing economies in Africa is redundant people who are in sleeping mode and are dependent of the few who are hard working.

Museveni was recently speaking at the launch of Finance Trust Bank in Kampala where he offered some practical advice to the professionals, business people and other invited guests.

He said only 32% of Ugandans were in the money economy while the rest were doing subsistence farming.

Finance Trust Bank is the first bank wholly established by enterprising women.

In August 1984, a group of women professionals started the Uganda Women's Finance and Credit Trust Limited (UWFCT) as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to look out for the interests of financially marginalized women.

On 24th March 2004, UWFT acquired a microfinance deposit tasking institution license and begun to receive deposits from the wider public consequently changing its name to Uganda Finance Trust Limited.

In 2013 Bank of Uganda granted the MDI a licence to operate as a fully-fledged commercial bank as evidenced by the recent launch.

Museveni said many Africans will die if they don't wake up like their counterparts in Asia where a big population is big pressurizing them to wake up and be more productive.

"Therefore the struggle we have is to wake up people and make them know that they should live a new way of life based on rationalized activities," the President said.

He added, "The 32% in the money economy are the ones who are supporting those in subsistence farming. That's why we have got a high dependence syndrome. This is the biggest challenge," he said.

Annette Nakawudde Mulindwa, the managing director of the bank said the bank's target remains to serve low end customers and tapping into the small medium enterprises including men.

Museveni said banks like Finance Trust are working with the 32% already awakened and the new arrivals so his job as the President and leader of the nation is to wake up the rest.

He however pointed out that even those in the money economy have problems in the way they run their businesses.

"Life could be better if you learn to have food and income," he advised.

The president elaborated that businesses need markets which is the reason his government is struggling to establish the EAC market, COMESA, AGOA, EU and other global markets.

Museveni encouraged businesses to take advantage of the relative peace in the country, infrastructure development and power supply.

The president expressed discontent over the low numbers of registered business companies (only 280,000) in country compared to the total population of over 37m people and seven homesteads.

"Where are the others? What are they doing? A whole family without a business," he asked saying people should develop a positive attitude towards business undertakings.

The President cautioned banks against exposing customers to unnecessary risks, saying management has to go an extra mile in supervising lending because it could be dangerous.

The Bank of Uganda Governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile encouraged the board of Finance Trust Bank to be diligent.

The central bank over the years has been able to foster a vibrant financial sector which has seen a robust banking sector evolve.

The governor said microeconomic stability was essential for economy and private investment.

Eng. Irene Muloni. The current senior Minister for Energy in Uganda and one of the founding members said their focus was on women so that they could improve their status and avail them with financial services to empower them.

Muloni said during the time, financial discipline was also promoted among the women.

Another founding member, Hon. Mary Amajor says they were at the time proving that women can borrow and pay back and was a welcome proof that women could do business.

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