By Emmanuel A. Okello, Communications Officer
When Rose Akao, 76, joined Acan Kwite Savings Group in 2012, little did she know she was in for a life-changing transformation for her and her family.
Acan Kwite (loosely translated as a poor person struggles) Savings Group is based in Atura Parish, Aber sub-county in Oyam District.
Geoffrey Ogwal, the group's chairperson, says the group started in 2012 with 15 members. Presently, the group has 30 members, who save every Sunday.
Some of the main objectives of the group are to ensure that every child in the family goes to school, that feeding and nutrition are improved and that overall economic empowerment is increased.
When the group started, World Vision provided training to the members on how to save to transform one’s life, financial literacy, livelihoods as well as encouraging farmers who have big gardens to take up farming as a business to get more money.
Akao would deposit between UGX 5,000 to 10,000 (between USD$ 1 and 3) into the group's savings box. At times she would deposit into the group savings money she got from the sale of maize she cultivated on the side.
“When there is no money at all, I deposit around, UGX 3000 (less than a dollar). As the year ends, the money would have accumulated thus making it easier to pick at once and plan how to use it,” revealed Akao.
In the first year of saving with the group, she managed to accumulate UGX 600,000 (about USD$160). With the money she saved, Akao purchased two young cows at UGX 300,000 each. She patiently took care of the cows, allowing them to mature for a full year. In the meantime, she continued to save with the group.
When the cows were fully mature, she sold them off for UGX 1,500,000 (about US$ 400) and added it to her annual savings of UGX 600,000, making a total of UGX 2,100,000 (about USD$ 560).
From the money she saved at the end of that year, Akao bought clay bricks to construct a new house. When she joined Acan Kwite, Akao was living in a grass-thatched structure.
Then she set aside more money to buy 2 more cows that she would sell at the end of the year. She also used some of the money to buy stationery and pay school fees for her grandchildren.
For 7 years, Akao kept injecting part of her savings into buying building materials to complete the house. Looking back over the years, Akao has no regrets.
“Now I sleep in a better house thanks to the group. I am also looking after grandchildren Who I’m taking to school,” Akao added.