Uganda: Growing financial inclusion by banks helping refugees improve livelihoods & access humanitarian services

Author: Christine Kasemiire, Daily Monitor (Uganda), Published on: 8 April 2020

"Banks move to financially include refugees"

With 1.5m refugees, Uganda is the biggest host country of refugees in Africa and the third-largest in the world...According to a baseline survey conducted by BFA global to determine financial inclusion for refugees, 79 per cent of the refugees in Bidibidi, Nakivale,Palorinya and Kampala havenon employment income which includes food and cash transfers from World Food Programme and other Non-Government Organisations(NGOs)...Financial inclusion of refugees is critical especially now during the coronavirus pandemic where income and food is key for survival.

Mr Simon Gerald Menhya, Acting Commissioner for Refugees, Office of the Prime Minister, says while provision of basic aid to refugees remains important, enabling them to access relevant services, including formal financial services, has the potential to coordinate humanitarian efforts more effectively and increase the impact of early-stage interventions...

However, Equity Bank through the aid of government and United Nations High Commissioner for refugees maintains a database for the refugees...This has enabled EBUL in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda provide electronic payment using bank infrastructure, channels and footprint to serve beneficiaries. The process has seen the bank enable refugees save their incomes...“When war broke out in 2016, we were compelled to close three branches in South Sudan. Most of the people came here (Uganda) and we decided to follow up our clients. We decided to step up operations in Uganda,” Mr Yengi Lokule, recounts how RUFI, a micro finance Institution, where he works as the chief executive officer was set up. “78 per cent of our clients are refugees,” he says. RUFI has successfully offered credit services to refugees for three years.

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Related companies: Equity Bank (Equity Building Society)