Kisoboka Africa: Financial Literacy is Every Ugandans Right
This feature highlights the community work led by Kisoboka Africa, a non-profit organization in Uganda that is supported by the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT).
In the village of Kabuwoko in Masaka District, Uganda, Stephen Katende was raised and supported mainly by women. This upbringing birthed a passion within him to help vulnerable women improve their livelihoods and educate their children.
In 2016, he acted on that passion and started Kisoboka Africa in rural communities of Uganda with two of his friends.
Through its flagship programs, School Community Banks (SCOBA) and the Young Savers Clubs (YSC), Kisoboka Africa provides parents with financial empowerment and access to finances to support their children’s education and equips young persons with financial literacy skills.
Every week, Stephen and his team mobilize rural community members especially women into groups in schools to learn of ways in which they can save and access loans to invest in small businesses. The team also provides education on business skills to ensure that they can successfully manage their small businesses, meet their family needs, and finance their children's education.
The organization also teaches basic principles of savings to school-going children through the Young Savers Clubs (YSCs). Through these engaging clubs, students learn about financial literacy, money management, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills.
When Kisoboka Africa began in June 2016, it impacted a group of 30 women who were parents to children at Lukindu BT School that were saving for their children's education. The organization was later registered at the end of 2017.
Since then, the organization has led over 2000 community members in the Lwengo District into School Community Banks to save and access finances. Among these, over 68% are women and they have been able to save over £ 101,954.
Kisoboka has also equipped over 1200 Ugandans with business skills and 71% of these have started small businesses including retail shops, constructing commercial houses, bee-keeping businesses, and poultry projects. Many have also improved their standards of living including building permanent houses and installing solar panels.
“We have also trained over 3000 community members in financial literacy. Kisoboka Africa has provided £ 6,979 to date to 8 School Community Banks to boost members’ access to finances for investment in small businesses directly benefiting 67 small businesses,” Stephen Katende, co-founder Kisoboka Africa.
The Road Toward Sustainability
In 2020, Kisoboka Africa received funding from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) to continue changing lives.
This support was welcomed by Stephen as accessing funding is one of the greatest barriers to moving the work forward for the organization.
“Access to funding has been hard and this has greatly affected our plans of scaling our impact. Most of the communities we work with are hard to reach and require resources for team members to reach them. I’m grateful that QCT believed in me and Kisoboka Africa and supported us.
Through the support from QCT, we have been able to organize over 1600 community members in the Lwengo District into groups that save and access finances for investment in small businesses.”
In addition to funding, QCT has provided training and technical support to Kisoboka Africa to improve the organization’s structure and capacity.
“Our team has been equipped with business skills that have enabled a few of us to start small businesses of our own. Our team has grown improving the organization`s capacity to deliver efficiently QCT has also provided technical support to enable Kisoboka Africa to build its internal systems and develop several internal policies such as the financial policy, safeguard policy, and strategic plan.
I am also happy that we were able to receive support on the road to sustainability. Through technical support, we have been able to develop and launch our pioneer revolving fund plan. The revolving fund is enabling parents to access small loans from Kisoboka Africa and pay us back with a small facilitation fee of 2% thus contributing to the sustainability of our operations. To date, the loan repayments have progressed as planned, and no bad debt has been recorded.”
Looking back on what has been achieved in 5 years, Stephen is confident looking forward that Kisoboka Africa will become a leader in ensuring financial access to rural communities in Uganda by 2027.
“I am proud of the growth achieved in terms of impact. Despite COVID-19 and its effects, we have managed to grow our impact to over 2000 families with more than 800 new small businesses started by beneficiaries in 2020. I am very happy about the team I am building that has steered this growth in these hard times.
In the next 5 years, we want to directly equip 20,000 families with business skills to help them start and manage businesses to improve their livelihoods. We are developing a digital system to give community members access to financial services on their basic phones and we hope to reach 100,000 people through working with partners.”
Stephen’s recommendation to young leaders looking to lead social change?
“Start with the resources that you have. Start now, with whatever you have, along the way learn as much as possible and be at your best all the time. Things will come in place as you grow."
To find out how you or your organization can show support for young leaders such as Stephen, visit the Queen's Commonwealth Get Involved page.
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