Established in 2004 and based in Buwenge sub-county in Eastern Uganda, JoyFod Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO) has over 1,400 members who have savings accounts with them and are taking loans. People in rural areas find it difficult to access the formal banking sector – as most banks are far away in town and there are costs involved in opening and maintaining an account. JoyFod is based in the community and most members are known to the SACCO staff.

Members say this makes it easier for them – there are no or limited travel costs in getting to JoyFod and they find it easier to approach SACCO staff as they know them. Members are encouraged to save first before they can take a loan – this allows members to build capacity to manage their finances before taking a loan. JoyFod typically loans money to local farmers who need to access extra money to manage the cash flow issues associated with farming.

Mohammed’s story

Mohammed Ngobi opened a savings account at JoyFod SACCO five years ago and since then he has been saving and has taken several loans to help him improve the little shop he runs near his home. He stocks drinks, biscuits, candles, matches and other household items. Each loan has enabled him to gradually expand his shop and also his farm; taking a bigger loan each time he successfully repays the last one.

He says he likes JoyFod more than other micro finance providers as they are more understanding with repayments and he has had access to training. He has attended training in the importance of saving and also how to keep records for businesses. He believes record keeping has enabled him to keep a track of his stock but also give him an idea of the profit or loss that he is making. He is also better able to keep account of his customers and when he has offered them credit and when he needs to follow up on that. The growth of his business and his commitment to saving has enabled him to accumulate enough money to further his education and he has recently completed his O levels (secondary education equivalency).

This story is from the book by Sally Hartley, “A New Space for a New Generation: The Rise of Co-operatives Amongst Young People in Africa” published by The Co-operative College in 2011.