UGAFODE Microfinance Limited (MDI) has opened a mini-branch in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda in the framework of a programme to foster financial inclusion of refugees launched by the UN Refugees Agency, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation. The initiative aims at building sustainable livelihoods, resilience and self-reliance among refugees in the settlement and host communities. This follows a successful pilot scheme of financial inclusion for refugees in Kampala. Under the project, refugees continue to access credit, savings and money transfer services.
During the pilot phase, UGAFODE adjusted its policies and procedures, including document requirements, such as identification (Refugee ID issued by the Office of the Prime Minister — refugee department). “Serving refugees fits in well with our mission of transforming lives of the low income, but economically active population. The refugees are economically active and have financial needs like any other person and deserve utmost attention,” declared Shafi Nambobi, the UGAFODE’s CEO.
Nakivale settlement hosts over 100,000 refugees from 13 countries, who mostly are engaged in agriculture and trade. With the Nakivale branch UGAFODE will extend financial services to smallholder refugee farmers and host community members to improve their household incomes. Nambobi announced that the institution plans to roll out financial services to refugees in other settlements in the future.
According to some refugees interviewed, UGAFODE Nakivale branch saves them from travelling long distances to access financial services in Mbarara or Isingiro. “With the establishment of this UGAFODE branch in our camp, financial services have been brought to our backyard, we can now be served easily,” one of the refugees said. Another refugee said that previously, due to poor roads, they needed to spare a day just to go to the bank and that the branch will help them save on transport costs and time wasted traveling.
Further information on the programme here.