Executive Announcement – Ms. Rashmi Pillai

Executive Announcement – Ms. Rashmi Pillai

The Board and staff of FSD Uganda, with mixed feelings of sadness and gratitude, announce the exit of Ms. Rashmi Pillai as the Executive Director – FSD Uganda, effective 8th March 2022.

Rashmi joined FSD Uganda as the Director of Programmes in 2018 and was appointed to the role of Executive Director in 2019. Over the last four years, she has spearheaded FSD Uganda’s vision on systemic change for a more inclusive financial sector. A sector that proactively catered to the marginalized like women, youth, smallholder farmers, refugees, and small businesses.

Under her stewardship and strategic steer, FSD Uganda has grown to become the country’s leading ‘think and do tank’ on financial inclusion.

The organisation has nurtured strong partnerships with key government ministries and agencies, the private sector, development partners and industry associations to help shape the operating environment of the financial industry in the country. The alliances enabled us to inform policies, regulations and digitally driven and evidence-backed approaches that have led to the development of tailor-made products benefiting many more Ugandans. The forward-thinking approach for relevant studies like the Covid -19 Wave series, has informed government initiatives, such as the recovery programmes being implemented by the government of Uganda.

Over the last four years, the organisation has championed innovative ideas that continue to challenge the status quo to meet the needs of ‘risk groups’ and strengthen the digital space to improve efficiencies and increase the reach of financial services. Some notable innovations include the Shared Agent Banking Network, the Electronic Know Your customer project impacting 15 million bank accounts, refugee finance directly impacting 200,000 households, digitisation of SAGE elderly payments, among others.

Rashmi leaves at a time when she has championed the development of a bold new strategy, “FSD Uganda 2.0,” to support the development of a financial sector that will increase the take-home income of people and businesses and contribute to the real economy.

This new direction, flexibility of approach and strategic alignment led FSD Uganda to onboard new partners –  the Mastercard Foundation for a $25MN Recovery Fund targeting micro and small businesses , and the $3.25 MN European Union led technical assistance  Deal Flow Facility targeting non-bank financing into mature Ugandan businesses. Thus, contributing to the national development goals of economic transformation.

The outgoing Executive Director, Rashmi Pillai, said:

“I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to contribute to Uganda’s national financial inclusion goals for the past four years. As the FSD Uganda team, we made incredible strides. We have influenced policies that have changed the financial sector landscape, collaborated with partners to develop innovative products that have benefitted most Ugandans, and we have rightly earned our place as the thought leaders in the financial sector. The new alliances we have onboarded have enabled the team to be more agile, efficient, and purposeful in what they do. I thank our donors – the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Mastercard Foundation, and the European Union for believing in us.

I want to thank the FSD Uganda team for their unprecedented resilience, especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were tested, but we came out stronger. I’m confident that with the clear strategic direction we have put in place and a good team, the organisation is in a much stronger position and has a defined legacy that will thrive for years to come.”

The FSD Uganda Board Chair, Ms. Amani M’Bale said:

 “On behalf of the Board and our staff of FSD Uganda, I would like to thank Rashmi for her passion, commitment and contribution to the financial inclusion ecosystem in Uganda. Her stewardship has sustained our position as a leading and relevant organisation that has facilitated and triggered sustainable changes in the market. This will continue to drive growth and access to finance. Rashmi has steered FSD Uganda in a solid position for continued growth. We thank her for her contribution and leadership that has seen over 700,000 Ugandans get included in the Financial Sector through innovations, improvement of the business environment, progressive policies and regulations that will continue to impact Ugandans’ lives positively. We wish her success in her next assignment”.

Joseph Lutwama
Joseph Lutwama

In the interim, the Board has appointed Mr Joseph Lutwama, the current Director of Programmes, as the Ag. Executive Director. Joseph has a wealth of experience in the financial sector and has been part of the growth witnessed at FSD Uganda over the years.

We trust that you, our partners will provide him the usual support as we transition into new management.

If you have questions about the transition or the organisations do not hesitate to reach out to Joseph Lutwama on jlutwama@fsduganda.or.ug.

Share:

Rebuilding livelihoods in displacement Endline Report – March 2022

Rebuilding livelihoods in displacement Endline Report – March 2022

    Download Case Study

    Little has been known about the financial strategies employed by refugees over time to build their livelihoods and manage their finances. This report provides an in-depth analysis of a baseline survey undertaken in January 2020 and an endline in November 2021. The sample included refugees and their host communities in the settlements of Nakivale, Bidi Bidi, Palorinya and in the capital Kampala. An endline study was conducted to understand the evolved financial behavior of refugees, get feedback on financial products offered by the implementing partners and assess how new financial products were used by the refugees. The COVID-19 pandemic occurred during the study period and offered the opportunity to track how households coped with the situation.

    The Financial Inclusion for Refugees (FI4R) project was launched in 2019 by FSD Uganda and FSD Africa to support financial service providers (FSPs) to offer financial services to refugees and host communities. The project is supporting three financial service providers (FSPs) Equity Bank Uganda Limited (EBUL), Vision Fund Uganda (VFU) and Rural Finance Initiative (RUFI) to offer financial services to refugees and host communities.

    Share:

    Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) Recovery Fund Launched

    Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) Recovery Fund Launched

    Mastercard Foundation and Financial Sector Deepening launch new fund to revive 50,000 Micro and Small Enterprises In Uganda

    Thursday, 24th February 2022, Kampala: Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, today launched a five-year Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) Recovery Fund under the Young Africa Works initiative, to boost 50,000 enterprises recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

    The US$20 million (approximately UShs70 billion) fund will shorten the recovery process of youth and women-owned businesses that employ and sustain the livelihood of millions of Ugandans. The fund will directly secure  100,000 at-risk jobs while enabling 150,000 additional opportunities for dignified and fulfilling work for young people

    MSEs in the program will receive credit worth between UShs100,000 and UShs10 million, which will be delivered through participating microfinance institutions and SACCOs (Tier III and Tier IV financial institutions).

    In addition to supporting MSEs, the fund will build the resilience of grassroots Financial Service Providers (FSPs) by digitizing workflow processes and strengthening their capacity to attract more long-term institutional capital to address shocks and ensure the sustainability of systemic growth.

    The Executive Director of FSD Uganda, Ms. Rashmi Pillai, said that FSD Uganda prides itself in working closely with like-minded partners such as the Government of Uganda and the Mastercard Foundation to find solutions that benefit all Ugandans.

    Ugandans.

    “The MSE Recovery Fund was a result of the FSD Uganda 5-waves COVID-19 studies. The studies show that while most people returned to jobs by late 2020, the quality of jobs declined, and net pay was still below pre-pandemic levels for nearly 73% of surveyed adults.. Individuals and households that worked for and with MSEs were worst hit. That’s why the facility we are launching today is intentional in targeting micro and small enterprises whose credit needs fall between UShs100,000 to UShs10 million. We are confident that this facility will be an excellent complement to the Government of Uganda’s Small Business Recovery Fund,” she added.

    Speaking on behalf of the Mastercard Foundation, Adrian Bukenya, the organizations’ Country Head, Uganda, added: “MSMEs are a significant driver of employment in Uganda. So, as the Foundation looks towards enabling 3 million young Ugandans to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030, we know we can only get there by addressing the residual effects of the pandemic on MSMEs. This facility is about standing with the individuals and businesses that are the backbone of our economy as they bounce back.”

    The Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, commended FSD Uganda and the Mastercard Foundation for this initiative, which he said will bolster Uganda’s effort to accelerate growth and revive the economy. “I am pleased that these organizations are targeting MSEs that employ most Ugandans. The fund will  boost our effort as a government and will help us to cover more ground and support our people to become self-reliant amidst the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.

    The Recovery Fund will be implemented in partnership with ASIGMA, the facility manager, who will ensure effective management of the funds, and gnuGrid, who will be tasked with the implementation of the credit referencing services to improve the processes of selected financial service providers.

    #End

    About FSD Uganda 

    Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSD Uganda) is a company limited by guarantee promoting greater access to financial services in Uganda. FSD Uganda seeks to develop a more inclusive financial sector focusing on low-income individuals, particularly smallholder farmers, women, youth, and forcibly displaced people and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). With support from FCDO, FSD Uganda facilitates product innovation, conducts research, helps to promote and improve policy, laws and regulations that shape the financial sector in Uganda. For more information on FSD Uganda, please visit www.fsduganda.or.ug

    About the Mastercard Foundation 

    The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

    About Young Africa Works 

    Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people, particularly young women, across Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work. Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the job market by 2030. With the right skills, these young people will contribute to Africa’s global competitiveness and improve their lives and those of their communities. The Mastercard Foundation will implement Young Africa Works in 10 African countries in collaboration with governments, the private sector, entrepreneurs, educators, and young people. The first phase of countries identified by the Foundation are Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria.

    Share:

    Gender Barriers to Access and Use of Financial Services by Women in Uganda

    Gender Barriers to Access and Use of Financial Services by Women in Uganda

      Download Report

      This qualitative study was commissioned by Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSD Uganda) to provide an understanding of the underlying barriers to access to and usage of formal financial services by women. Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO – formerly DFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the European Union (EU), FSD Uganda is an independent not-for-profit company committed to promoting greater access to and usage of financial services in Uganda. It seeks to support a more inclusive financial sector with a focus on low-income individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

      The overarching aim of the study was to obtain a deeper understanding of the constraints and enablers of women’s access to and usage of formal financial services. The study framework was aligned to the three key components of a market system, namely: the core (demand and supply), supporting functions, and formal and informal rules and thus involved obtaining insights and perspectives from all types of market system actors including FSPs, support service providers, regulators and policymakers, individual household members and a mix of women and men in the community. Since the study also sought to establish geographical variants of women’s experience in accessing financial services, field visits were undertaken in southwestern, central peri-urban and rural villages as well as in Kampala to capture rural, semi-urban and urban perspectives.

      Share:

      MSME Resilience in Uganda Study – November 2021

      MSME Resilience in Uganda Study – November 2021

        Download Report

        MSMEs in Uganda are underserved by insurance but are a significant potential target market. MSMEs play a fundamental role in the Ugandan economy as drivers of growth and employment, but they face considerable risks that hinder their capacity to thrive. Insurance could bolster MSMEs’ resilience in view of the risks and challenges that they face but, at present, does not sufficiently fulfil this role. Moreover, from insurers’ perspective, there is considerable business opportunity to reach this largely untapped market.

        Insurers challenged in serving MSMEs. Despite the business opportunity that this group represents, MSMEs are a heterogenous potential target market that is generally difficult to reach/distribute products to and gather data on. MSMEs’ perception of insurance also tends to be negative – based on a lack of experience with the value of insurance (often due to poor claims experience and lack of tangibility of the benefits).

        Share:

        Managing the complexities of insurance partnerships – Turaco and Fenix International

        Managing the complexities of insurance partnerships – Turaco and Fenix International

          Download Publication

          Above our mission of leveraging finance for the upwards economic mobility of women, youth, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), smallholder farmers and refugees, FSD Uganda’s interventions are aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals, households and communities using appropriate financial products and services. Aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our interventions are designed to increase access to critical social services including health, education, and affordable housing. This will positively impact the wellbeing and long-term outcomes for the communities that we serve.

          Turaco’s pilot project, a collaboration with Fenix International, was one of the winners of the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda Microinsurance Challenge Fund (MCF) commissioned in 2018. The MCF winners’ projects provided learnings that will be beneficial to all players in the market. Case studies from the MCF winners will highlight the different models that exist and document key learnings. This specific case study draws on the experiences of the Turaco and Fenix International teams navigating the complexities of insurance partnerships.

          Share:

          Making Elephants Dance – A Case Study on Shared Agent Banking in Uganda

          Making Elephants Dance – A Case Study on Shared Agent Banking in Uganda

            Download Case Study

            Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda collaborated with several market actors, who together, played a foundational role in piloting Uganda’s Shared Agent Banking System (SABS). Following an extensive engagement with industry actors, FSD Uganda produced a case study on Shared Agent Banking in Uganda “Making Elephants Dance’ that contains critical reflections on how SABS can be enhanced and scaled sustainably in Uganda. Further, the learnings captured in the case study will be an important reference point for countries looking to embark on a similar journey.

            The title of the case study, Making Elephants Dance, depicts the herculean efforts that were put in by the industry association, Uganda Bankers’ Association, industry actors, the Agent Banking Company, the regulator, the technology partner Eclectics International, as well as development sector actors to establish mutual principles that are governing the complex partnerships required for SABS in a highly competitive industry. The case study also highlights forward-looking opportunities that exist.

            Share:

            Compliance guidance tool for FinTechs – Implementation of the National Payment Systems (NPS) Act 2020

            Compliance guidance tool for FinTechs – Implementation of the National Payment Systems (NPS) Act 2020

              Download Toolkit

              Recognising that most FinTechs in Uganda are start-ups and young businesses with limited capacity and resources to comply with the new laws, FSD Uganda partnered with FITSPA to develop a regulatory compliance toolkit that FinTechs seeking licensing under the National Payment Systems Act can use to ensure they comply with the licensing and regulatory requirements under the new regime. This will enable the industry to transition seamlessly from an unregulated industry to a regulated one, with minimal or no hurdles for the different actors in the FinTech ecosystem.

              Share:

              FI4R Diaries Round II Insights: How Refugees Perceive and Cope with Risk

              FI4R Diaries Round II Insights: How Refugees Perceive and Cope with Risk

              By The Financial Inclusion for Refugees (FI4R) team

                Download Case Study

                This is part two of an ongoing series of insights from a financial diaries study undertaken with refugees in Uganda, focused on their ability to cope with risks. The respondents are drawn from customers served by three financial service providers: Equity Bank Uganda, VisionFund Uganda, and the Rural Finance Initiative.

                Share:

                Digital Transparency and Informed Consent

                Digital Transparency and Informed Consent

                  Download Case Study

                  The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), with support from Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, partnered with the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics to undertake a study on consumer awareness of data use and privacy.

                  Our findings highlight important differences between consumers who use smartphones and those who use basic feature phones that do not have internet access, particularly in regards to how they engage with digital services, and their risk perceptions and preferences. We also found that the summary significantly increased comprehension of Terms and Conditions, and sending the summary by USSD was more effective for comprehension than sending the summary by SMS.

                  Share:

                  New lives, new tools: The financial lives of refugee communities

                  New lives, new tools: The financial lives of refugee communities

                  Observations by BFA Global based on initial field research 

                  Access to financial services and a steady source of income are key concerns for displaced populations when they begin to settle in camps. Understanding how refugees cope as they grow their livelihoods, incomes and adopt both formal and informal financial tools can provide insights on what financial services they need to strengthen their resilience.

                  In August 2019, The Financial Inclusion for Refugees Project (FI4R) was launched by FSD Uganda and FSD Africa in collaboration with BFA Global to conduct refugee financial diaries in Uganda and provide insights into the financial strategies employed by refugees over time to build their livelihoods and manage their finances. The project will also support financial service providers (FSPs) to offer financial services to refugees and host communities. This is the first Financial Diaries project with refugees that will provide a detailed picture, over the course of a year, about the incomes, expenditures and financial flows of refugee households. The project will also reflect on how financial service providers engage with these households.

                  The FI4R project kicked off with extensive focus group discussions and individual interviews across Kampala, Nakivale, Bidibidi and Palorinya camps. Several observations stood out from this initial field research.

                  Financial and human capital determines how refugees are able to support themselves

                  The financial and human capital that refugees arrived with in Uganda was a factor in determining their ability to support themselves, their families and grow their assets and income sources. These findings are similar to observations made during our research in Rwanda on Refugees and Their Money.

                  Access to any financial services is key

                  Refugees have significantly expanded their use of formal financial instruments since they came to Uganda – particularly mobile money and savings groups. However, these tools were not without risk. Many refugees did not have strong enough livelihoods to keep up with savings group contributions. In addition to this, the risk of sim cards being shut-off  left refugees unsure of whether they would lose money saved in their mobile wallets, a common savings strategy. Several respondents, especially those who operate businesses, narrated how they had tried to access formal financial institutions but had their requests rejected because of the stringent government policy not to accept refugee IDs or other non-approved forms of identification for the (Know Your Customer) KYC process.

                  Refugees leave home with little or nothing

                  The eagerness to take up financial products would have been hard to believe when these refugees first came to Uganda. Most respondents came into the country with close to nothing, perhaps only in possession of a small phone that was likely broken or even stolen by the time they reached Uganda. Many left their home countries very quickly as a result of violence or threats, which afforded them very little time to prepare. Most of the refugees walked long distances, or at least part of the way, and relied heavily on strangers to get to either Kampala or the camps.

                  Small amounts can make a difference in how quickly refugees can get on their feet

                  Jack* came from Congo in 2015 with CDF 500,000 ($295) in his pocket, which he changed for 1 million UGX ($270) at the border at Bunagana*. He spent 400,000 UGX ($100) on food and a bus to Nakivale refugee settlement. This left him with 600,000 UGX ($160) to start a business – just enough for him and his wife to start making and selling local sorghum-based drinks. He estimates that they now make a profit of about 10,000 UGX ($2.7) per day which supports the couple and their seven children. Jack was able to save enough from these profits to buy a motorcycle. Leah’s* story follows a similar path. She lives in Bidibidi refugee camp with her five children. She left Juba, where she was a restaurant manager and came to Uganda in 2016 with only a small phone and two cooking pots. When UNHCR gave her two cooking pots, she was able to sell them and used the proceeds to start a business selling sugar and salt – pots are given to all incoming refugees. Leah has since graduated to selling charcoal, and has been able to buy five goats and six local-breed chickens.

                  Savings groups are beneficial

                  Leah has immensely benefited from her membership in savings groups in the Bidibidi settlement. Initially Leah participated in a rotating savings group with other women selling charcoal (her mechanism to buy the goats), and then from the Accumulating Saving & Credit Association (ASCA) that the rotating savings group morphed into. Currently, she contributes 5,000 UGX ($1.30) per week and has been able to borrow up to 200,000 UGX ($54), paying it back within two months. Early in 2019, she joined a different group of 36 members based in the same area of the settlement camp. This group is sponsored by an NGO which provided them with seeds to grow eggplants and onions. When they sold their produce for 400,000 UGX ($100), the NGO gave the group a grinding mill, encouraging them to start a savings group with the 400,000 UGX. The grinding mill makes a profit of about 30,000 UGX ($8) per month, which goes into the savings group to increase the loan sizes it is able to offer members. However, it must be said that Leah is an exemplary example of a savings group participant. Other women we interviewed had not yet contributed anything to their savings groups or were lagging in their weekly contributions. Challenges that have contributed to the delay in remitting contributions include the lack of adequate income-generating activities within the settlements. Some refugees relied on working for NGOs to either sell them goods or perform small services such as fetching water. This work can prove temporary when projects are complete, and institutions leave.

                  Livelihood assets are key for settling down

                  The livelihoods refugees create from the human capital they bring from their home countries determines how they settle down. We found a keen “livelihood agility” among some people who had worked in a diverse number of jobs in their home countries – one man in Nakivale farmed, then operated a Boda Boda taxi, finally taking a job as a cleaner in a Vodacom shop. Leah, above, had never sold charcoal, but she understood the basic concepts of running a business from her time as a restaurant manager in Juba.

                  This “livelihood agility” is less present with Amara*, a 35-year-old woman from Eritrea who doesn’t write (even Arabic) or speak English or any Ugandan dialect. Amara was married in 1998 to a soldier and she had seven children with him – four are still alive and three died. She was a full-time mother and housewife. She came with her four children to Kampala at the beginning of 2019. Luckily, her husband had built networks with a number of journalist friends while he was in South Sudan. One of them was based in Kampala, and he was able to reach out to the network of Amara’s husband’s friends to support her. In all, Amara received about 11 payments from them through a woman in Kampala, totaling about USD 2,000 (7 million UGX). With this capital, she set up a small shop where she sells powdered and liquid soap, sugar and fresh bread and makes tea and coffee. However, the shop is doing badly and the funds from her husband’s network have stopped. She is behind on rent, even after the landlord decreased it from 480,000 UGX ($130) per month to 380,000 UGX ($103), and she does not have enough money to send the children to school. She is now considering going to one of the settlement camps.

                  Stigma and fear are constraints to livelihoods

                  Even the refugees who are doing relatively well face huge risks and their livelihoods tend to be constrained, especially in Kampala. They live in constant fear of threats from people back in their home country while also being harassed and stigmatized by the locals.  This makes it difficult to grow a small business and getting a job is almost impossible. When refugees do get jobs, they are often cheated out of their pay or are sexually harassed.   Because many refugees don’t speak or read the language, they are persistently cheated by landlords, business owners, and mobile money agents.

                  Access to financial services is still limited

                  In addition to the everyday risks that refugees experience, they also face challenges from service providers. The most significant example which currently exists is the unexpected de-registration of their mobile money wallets. There have been instances of fake identity documents presented at the points of registration and financial service providers are now concerned that this does not allow them to undertake a valid KYC process. Sim cards have been shut off with refugees losing money in the process. The refugees we spoke to said they often save in their mobile money accounts – the bank was for larger amounts money, which they never seemed to have. One person we spoke with lost 150,000 UGX ($40) after their sim card was deregistered. Without a proper ID, it is very difficult to recover the money or get the sim card turned back on. Additionally, mobile literacy remains a big challenge.  Refugees usually handover their phones to the mobile money agents to transact for them and are constantly taken advantage of because they don’t understand how to use their phones.

                  In the coming months, we will be tracking the financial flows of refugee households in Kampala and the camps of Nakivale, Bidi Bidi and Palorinya in the West Nile region. As we do, we will learn about the income, expenditure and financial flows of refugee households in Uganda, and share these learning with local stakeholders and the global community.

                  * Jack is likely to have gotten short-changed as the exchange rate in 2015 was 2.80 and he should have received about 1.4 million UGX.

                  Real names have been changed.


                  By Observations from the Financial Inclusion for Refugees (FI4R) team

                  Share:

                  Our Donors & Partners

                  European Union Logo
                  Report a concern anonymously

                  FRAUD AND ETHICS HOTLINE

                  Subscribe to our PUBLICATIONS

                  OUR CONTACTS

                  ADDRESS:
                  Plot 7A, John Babiha (Acacia) Avenue, Kololo
                  P.O. Box 608 Kampala, Uganda
                  TEL: +256 393 231260/2

                  © Copyright FSD Uganda 2015 – 2022. All Rights Reserved.