Rural Bank at Mbarara Epicenter Gains Official Recognition
In late August 2010, Mbarara Epicenter became the sixth Rural Bank in Uganda — and the twenty-first in Africa — to gain official government recognition.
Rural Bank recognition is the ultimate objective of The Hunger Project's (THP) Microfinance Program, which operates in eight countries in Africa. Once the microfinance facility gains recognition to operate as a licensed Rural Bank, it can provide the entire epicenter community with sustainable access to savings and credit.
The Mbarara Epicenter Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (MESACCO) currenlty has 830 members, 80 percent of whom are women. It currently supports a loan portfolio of approximately US$16,000 and has over US$90,000 cash in the bank. Having received almost $60,000 in seed capital from THP, these impressive holdings reflect strong financial management of resources. In addition, the bank has mobilized over US$18,000 in savings and roughly US$5,000 in member shares.
Members of the rural bank have access to a range of financial services including education loans, house improvement loans, business and agriculture loans and loan insurance. The bank also holds trainings in savings mobilization, credit management, bookkeeping, financial planning and budgeting.
MESACCO's new Bank Manager, holding a university degree in Business Administration and Accounting, recently began her official duties and, together with the Board of Directors, developed a budget and work plan for the end of 2010. The Board of Directors is comprised of seven local women who received official training on their roles and responsibilities at an epicenter training.
The official inauguration and public ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of the Mbarara Epicenter and other local epicenters took place on December 8, 2010 and was attended by over 500 local partners.