As we travelled down the dusty roads of rural Lwengo on our way to Kamuwaza Village on 1 Feb 2024, I wondered what we would discover. We were on our way to visit one of the Kisoboka Africa School Community Bank (SCOBA) groups we partner with – eager to listen, learn, and better understand their dreams for the future.
Upon arriving at Kamuwaza School, we were greeted with the vibrant sounds of the community bank in session. What we witnessed was financial inclusion in action. Over 70 villagers – mothers, fathers, teachers and shop owners – gathered together, unified in work to lift up their community. This group embodied the true meaning of economic change: localized, grassroots and community-driven.
Mariam(not her real name), the SCOBA secretary, walked us through their system. Each member contributes small weekly savings which are then redistributed as low-interest loans for entrepreneurial efforts. The empathy and care between members was deeply felt. When some member stood up to request a loan to purchase inventory for her clothing business, neighbours and friends lined up to support her. Every person knows each other, understands the challenges they face, and cheers on their success. When one member succeeds – the whole village succeeds.
As we listened in on their meeting, we were reminded that true financial inclusion starts with people not just access. It begins by gathering around, understanding unique barriers in unique places, and investing in community-authored visions for stability. Lasting empowerment means change directed from within – not imposed from the outside in.
The members of Kamuwaza embody this. Their School Community Bank sprang from their own dreams for a better future. And if you look closely at this picture, you’ll notice packets of seeds being exchanged – seeds they are planting for both economic and food security. Kamuwaza knows that harvesting lasting change means rooting solutions in the soil of community. Their hopeful seeds are growing a brighter future in this often forgotten corner of rural Uganda.
At Kisoboka Africa, we believe the global goals of financial access and inclusion will only be achieved through local leadership. We commit to keep showing up, listening intently to the Mariams and Janets of the world, and joining them as they drive change for their villages and families. Because the surest path to economic empowerment begins with community.