New Rural Bank in Uganda Inaugurated; Kiringente Epicenter Declared Self-reliant

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The Rural Bank at The Hunger Project (THP)-Uganda's Kiringente Epicenter gained official recognition and was inaugurated at a ceremony on September 10, 2009. This inauguration marks the achievement of the ultimate objective of our Microfinance Program in each epicenter, which is to have our microcredit facility gain government recognition to operate as a licensed Rural Bank. Owned entirely by community members and managed by a 100-percent female board, the Rural Bank then provides the entire epicenter community with sustainable access to savings and credit facilities.

President and CEO, Jill Lester, and Vice President for Africa Programs, Ambassador Fitigu Tadesse, attended the inauguration ceremony with more than 500 community members. The event was also attended by local government leaders and the Resident District Commissioner, who served as the official representative of the Head of State. At the ceremony, members of the Rural Bank's Board of Directors spoke about their vision for the bank, which included expanding its membership and making services available to as many people as possible by creating satellite branches throughout the epicenter community.

The Microfinance Program is a key component of THP's Epicenter Strategy. When the Rural Bank is recognized, it marks a very important milestone for our epicenter communities: they are officially declared self-reliant. THP pays the salary of the bank manager for the first two years to ensure full compliance and offers programmatic support. After those two years, the epicenter no longer receives financial assistance from THP.

Kiringente is the fifth epicenter in Uganda, and the nineteenth in Africa, to become self-reliant.