Outreach of Microfinance from urban and semi-urban to rural and remote areas of Uganda is the most contentious issue of industry. At the first IIE of 2007, two very different presentations were given, yet they tackle the same theme: Outreach of Microfinance. The first presentation took the avenue of technology. SEVAK solutions is a company with the mission to apply the opportunities of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to Microfinance consumers.
ICT-based payment systems, SEVAK-founder Laura Frederick explained, are an infrastructure. Infrastructure is very costly, yet mostly "non-rival", i. e. once in place, it can be used by many. Microfinance Service Providers should not compete on infrastructure, because they can't win and will in the end even harm the consumer. Rather, MFIs should collaborate on infrastructure and concentrate competition on services.
The Capacity Building SEEP/AMFIU Grant
In a continued effort to develop and expand a professional human resource base in the microfinance industry, AMFIU in partnership with the SEEP Network secured a grant to sponsor microfinance senior and middle level managers (AMFIU members only) on a cost-sharing Scholarship basis for a diploma in microfinance. The aim of the scholarship is to build a mass of qualified professionals to run the microfinance industry. This year, the sponsorship will be given to 15- 20 students on a first come 1st serve basis. The sponsorship will cover only 50% of the tuition either at MUBS, MCC-UIB or any other university that has a microfinance academic programme that runs for one year. The rest of the tuition should be an internal arrangement between the institution and the candidate.
The Rating service in Uganda is a new concept that is slowly spreading within the microfinance industry. The spread of the microfinance services in Uganda has correspondingly brought about various challenges to the microfinance sector; the challenges faced by Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) tend to differ from institution to institution. Some MFIs are supervised and regulated by Bank of Uganda e.g. the Microfinance Deposit Taking Institutions (MDIs) and others; in fact the majority of the small micro finance institutions like the Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) and smaller Non-governmental organizations are not supervised nor monitored by Bank of Uganda.
Microfinance institutions that are not regulated by Bank of Uganda are the Tier 4 institutions. Such institutions hold savings from clients and give out loans from these savings. The key question is, how safe are the client?s savings when the institutions they financially transact with are not supervised nor monitored by any responsible recognizable body? The question indicates a gap that exists within the Tier 4 institutions that requires bridging.