Project Manager – Caritas Kampala
The mission of Caritas Kampala is to support the development of cooperatives in the Archdiocese of Kampala
Rita forwarded her latest update from Kampala just before Christmas:
We are pleased to announce the launch of our newsletter after another year of hard work and dedication in support of the development of cooperatives in the Archdiocese of Kampala.
Our goal with this new newsletter is to provide an easier way for our stakeholders to learn more about work Caritas Kampala is doing with cooperatives. Since 2015, our efforts have been strengthened with a partnership with Viatores Christi from Ireland, through an approved project by Misean Cara, funded by Irish Aid.
This journey has enabled the development of an effective capacity building framework put into practice by combining training, exchanges of experiences, review and implementation of new policies, tools and equipment to ensure a better quality of service delivered to members, and a higher level of transparency and accountability.
We are thankful to our partners, the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga for his continuous support of our work, our team at Caritas Kampala who have donated their time and energy, and to all people who are involved in the development of our cooperatives.
The success of this project mainly depends on the quality of participation, level of engagement and sharing of practical experiences of our leaders, and staff and members enabling our cooperative societies to expand and improve their businesses to amplify the benefits they offer to the communities they are located in.
We hope you find the new newsletter refreshing and informative. We would also love to receive contributions from our readers in our next editions.
The cooperatives principles and values make them a unique and effective model to promote social and economic inclusion as they are member-driven, controlled and owned. The different types of cooperatives under the Archdiocese of Kampala – agricultural, multipurpose or SACCO – are rooted in the parishes where they are located, providing access to financial resources for the development of small business and offering livelihood opportunities aligned with the needs of the communities. At the same time, they are cultivating the Church values and the spirit of togetherness and solidarity among the groups.
From training to additional knowledge and from improved knowledge to action
The project trained leaders and staff in three new areas this year: Governance and Leadership, delivered by The Uhuru Institute for Social Development (TUI); Financial Management and Accounting and Credit Management for Cooperatives, delivered by Uganda Cooperative Saving and Credit Limited (UCSCU).
A discussion on policies during the training resulted in the organisation of the Governance Charter, Financial and Accounting Policies, and Credit and Lending Policy for our cooperatives. The project has ongoing training in business skills and workshops in financial literacy for members of cooperatives, formation of new cooperatives and record keeping and accounting. In total, 30 training sessions were delivered for leaders, staff and members of cooperatives, and around 2,700 people engaged in the project activities throughout the year.
Essay Writing Competition
A competition was organised among all members – apart from the leaders – of the 37 cooperatives to write the factors that motivate them to become members. The competition was run under the theme: Why am I a member of this cooperative? The essays were accepted in English and Luganda, typed or handwritten. The first five winners were:
1) Dennis Ssekitto from Kawempe Cooperative – Shs300,000
2) Gabriel Ssazi from Kitakyusa Farmer’s Cooperative – Shs200,000
3) Joan Nakyeyune from KADCOS Nsambya Cooperative – Shs100,000
4) Grace Nakibuuka from Munaku Kaama Kisubi Cooperative – Shs50,000
5) Thecia Nakiganda from Matugga Cooperative – Shs50,000
Another fifteen winners won a T-shirt each.
Exposure Visits – Learning by practice
In July 2018, an exposure visit was organised to visit the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) in Namanve, East of Kampala. The 31 farmers from six agricultural cooperatives who participated in the visit built their knowledge on the coffee chain, from production to the cup. An additional exposure visit was organized for small SACCOs in November 2018 to a cooperative model – KADCOs Nsambya – to learn, in practice, the internal procedures of a SACCO. Forty six people from 17 cooperatives participated.
Our cooperatives in the national news
Two articles were published in the Daily Monitor, a national newspaper, in September 2018, sparked by the project. One article about the work of the coffee factory in Mpigi district which benefits six agricultural cooperatives, was titled, ‘How farmer groups eliminated middlemen’. Another article about Naddangira, Munaku Kaama Kisubi and KADCOS Nsambya SACCOs fully engaged in our project, was titled, ‘Church-based SACCOs helping communities overcome poverty’.
The publication gave a voice to our grassroots cooperatives, advertising their work, raising public awareness, understanding and support for cooperatives, and recognition of Caritas Kampala’s efforts.
The strides taken
Caritas Kampala has set up a partnership agreement with Kabatech Computer Center to purchase 30 licenses for SACCO Management System software to be implemented by our cooperatives in January 2019. It is a comprehensive package that was further customised and provides accounting reports such as, income and expenditure statements, financial position and statements of cash flows, and will enable SACCOs to expand and improve the accuracy and quality of data collected.
Nineteen cooperatives benefited from the distribution of seven sets of computers and printers, six sets of furniture and ten strong boxes. The equipment was equally distributed to reach a higher number of groups, strengthening structural growth and enabling societies to drive more resources to meet their operating costs to enhance service delivery to their members.
The office engaged over 6,000 community members in 11 activities in different parishes to educate and sensitise them on the benefits of the cooperative model. These activities included five annual general meetings, three parish council meetings, four parish celebration days, and eight talks after Sunday Mass to mobilise new members to join the cooperatives.
Advocating for cooperatives:
Caritas Kampala has continued its engagement with the stakeholders in the national sector to advocate for cooperative development to influence decision makers in public policy and legislation and the general public. In April 2018, Caritas mobilised cooperatives to engage in the campaign to reinstate the Ten Years Tax Exemption for SACCOs, which reached the goal of upholding the tax exemption status.
In September 2018, a meeting was held with Hon. Frederick Ngobi Gume, the Minister of State of Cooperatives. It was a rewarding opportunity for the Caritas delegation to present a brief of our work with cooperatives, and the challenges and opportunities for mutual collaboration with the government. Among the points presented was a request for a progressive implementation of the new laws and regulations, allowing for a transition period to protect the grassroots cooperatives from failure, and the harmonisation of its approaches to avoid conflicts of new laws and institutions governing cooperatives.”
Rita has been on assignment as a Project Manager at Caritas Kampala in Uganda since 2015 – here she shares her thoughts on the past two years work:
“As Christmas approaches and the year ends, I look back and see what we have achieved so far. I see that this year has given me much more than I expected. I am able to see how much our efforts have started to enrich the lives of our beneficiaries.
In 2017, we engaged in a financial education training package delivering workshops to our cooperatives and their members. The exchanges and the feedback from the communities and beneficiaries during the activities was well received and became a huge source of motivation for the Caritas team to continue pursuing our agenda on financial literacy to encourage cooperative members to become better managers of their limited finances.
The response and incremental benefits I am beginning to see within the communities as a result of these Caritas driven activities has been tremendously satisfying for me and the Caritas team which I work closely pictured below. To see, hear and know what we have achieved together is what has made me the most proud. It shows that the work is appreciated and that encourages my expectations of what the next phase of the project will bring.
The work we are conducting is not only to give support but to put in place structures and resources that will carry on our legacy and be built upon after our departure from this project. It is above all about the potential for transformation and social change, the ability to support people to take personal responsibility for their own learning journey, both individually and collectively. We are here only to give a push and encouraging them to make things happen.
Development is seen as a process of change through time. In the next three years we will be expanding our capacity building agenda combining training; education; technical assistance; and follow-ups creating professional leaders, staff and more participative members for our 38 grass-roots cooperatives based within the parishes under the Archdiocese of Kampala, Uganda. Our challenge is to contribute to expand the value of cooperative models plays within and outside the Church structures to promote socio-economic development and inclusive growth through cooperation and solidarity among individuals and groups to come and work together so that more rights can be realized.
Although there have been some ups and downs in this journey throughout, my passion, commitment and determination that have worked in my favour, and following the calling from my heart I knew that I could turn things around and make the most of this assignment.
The biggest factor that leads any of us to work in developing areas, which is our unifying trait is compassion. Though we are sometimes shaken by experiences we must always have the passion to keep focusing our work to enrich the lives of those around us. Whether that is in Africa or in Ireland.
I will be always grateful for Viatores Christi for this opportunity that was given to me to engage meaningfully with people here and hopefully share the best of what I have to offer whilst also learning from them. I am certain that Africa will never leave me.”