AMFIU – Our History
In 1996 several stakeholders of microfinance industry came to realize that an association to coordinate the provision of microfinance in the country had become necessary. The then well advanced microfinance providers namely FINCA Uganda Ltd (MDI) and Cooperative Bank microfinance agencies saw the need for an industry association that would coordinate them and promote best practices. This view was keenly shared by donors who had experiences with more mature microfinance industries of Latin America and South East Asia.
During that time, the government developed the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). Studies for establishment of PEAP had identified lack of financial services for the poor people as a key challenge in national economic development. Internationally this was the time when micro credit was gloried as the all effective cure of poverty. So the idea of an industry network captured keen interest from all stakeholders
Among the first institutions that promoted the establishment of AMFIU were FINCA Uganda, PRIDE Africa (Now microfinance Ltd (MDI), the cooperative Bank Microfinance Agencies, the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) that was financed by UNDP, UGAFODE, Uganda Women’s Finance Trust (Now Finance Trust Bank), FOCCAS and Private Alleviation Credit Trust (PACT- Masindi that later closed).
Whereas the indigenous MFIs appreciated and actively sought to set up a network for the coordination, the donors and internationally coordinated MFIs who had experiences with best practices elsewhere in the world saw the association as an opportunity to disseminate best practices.
To move the concept of coordination and cooperation forward, the then head of cooperative Bank Agencies Mr. Lascheles Chen worked with the Government to develop a concept paper for the national strategy for microfinance. The concept pointed out the need for an institutionalized network with a coordination unit.
From a series of informal meetings, AMFIU was born and the first office bearers were elected. The first directors were Mwalimu Musheshe, Eve Mukasa (President), Michael McCord (Vice President), Alex Kakuru (Treasurer)
Regular meetings were subsequently held at Uganda Women’s Finance Trust in the then president’s office board room. These meetings resulted into the development of the first constitutions focusing on coordination, service delivery and outreach
The government then boosted microfinance activities through the Poverty Alleviation Project (PAP) that was funded by the African Development Bank. PAP was an apex for capacity building and wholesale loans to MFIs. In 1997 PAP joined AMFIU and paid membership fees for all its member MFIs till 1998 that were totaling to 40. This boosted the activities of AMFIU. PAP was then succeeded by the Rural Microfinance Support Project. Then the Presidency was moved from Mrs Eva Mukasa (UWFT) to Mr. Mwalimu Musheshe (URDT).
In late 1997 another project USAID/PRESTO was established. This started on a methodical infusion of best practices within plans and operations of MFIs. PRESTO developed different courses all based on best practice principles and delivered them to all types of institutions that had responded to their request for partners. AMFIU was readiest collaborator with PRESTO in advancing the best practice agenda.
In 2000 AMFIU had another extra ordinary general meeting in which the board was asked to step down and a new board was elected headed by Mrs. Clare Wavamuno. In the first two years this board worked effectively to establish a full time secretariat, recruit the first ever AMFU executive Director (Mr. Suleiman Namara) and developed a strategic plan with programmes that have since grown from glory to glory.
It was this vivid progress that AMFIU members wanted to see when they replaced the board. The board worked with the Executive Director to develop work plans, institutional review and evaluation criteria. This increased member’s interest in AMFIU and the numbers went up.
AMFIU’s programmes revolved around advocacy, lobby and sound practices. It has continued to build on these foundations and today AMFIU’s services are geared towards building a professional microfinance industry with strong and sustainable institutions. AMFIU focuses on member development activities to enhance the quality of service delivery by the members to their target market – the poor and small income earners. This is achieved through the following key areas;
- Provision of capacity building and technical assistance services to MFIS and SACCOs in key areas of, governance, sound practices, product development, savings and resource mobilization, strategic planning and management, risk management, financial reporting and management and performance monitoring
- Promotion of financial inclusion through capacity building and technical assistance in financial literacy, client protection and social performance management
- Training and technical assistance to financial institutions in financial reporting and analysis using the Performance Monitoring Tool (PMT) and the Performance Monitoring System (PMS)
- Spearheading lobby efforts in the sector to create a favourable operating environment,
- Conducting relevant researches, information collection and dissemination,
- Development and enforcement of industry standards and sound practices
The Association has continued to grow and in 2008 the association acquired its own permanent premises located at Plot 679 Wamala Road, Najjanankumbi. This was made possible through contributions from members who agreed to contribute an equivalent of 3 times their annual subscription.