Thanks to Henry Damulira Uganda’s Unbanked can now access banks from their phones.
During an outreach ministry while in high school vacation, I spent four months on the island preaching the gospel and teaching English and math’s at a primary school which had just been setup by our local church, Seguku Worship Centre. While on an outreach ministry at Rwajje Island in Mukono district as a young evangelist in 1997 I noticed that the fishermen normally stored their day’s earnings under huge stones all over the island. This was mainly because of lack of access of banking services. This spurred me to develop a digital mobile saving platform which allows ordinary Ugandans to save money in banks through mobile money on their phones.
The fishermen’s style of storing their money not only left it vulnerable to theft, but also made it hard for them to actually save it because they accessed it at will. They then squandered it on things that did not add value to their lives. This left them in a cycle of poverty.
I had been a victim of a poor saving culture earlier in life myself. As a teenager, I had bought a piggy bank in which I saved my earnings from fetching water. At the time, my goal had been to save and buy a bicycle to ease my work and triple my daily income.
However, I was tempted to blow my money on baseball caps! My goal of buying a bicycle to fetch more water easily and making more money in the process was shattered on a whim!
When I saw what was happening at Rwajje Island and related it to what I had experienced earlier in my life, I was deeply hurt. I realized that poor saving culture and un-prohibited access to their money was the main reason why our people remained poor because they cannot save and invest.
Case Study: A study of 1,500 poor people in Uganda showed that 99 percent of respondents Failed to reach their savings goals when using informal methods, either because the money was stolen or lost, or because they were too tempted to spend the money when it was stored as cash in their home. And it is estimated that 3 out of 4 adults in developing and middle income countries don’t have bank accounts as demonstrated below in figure 1 and 2. (https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/savings-statistics-financial-services-for-the-poor)
Fast forward to 2013; after I resigned from my last job with Swift Academy Uganda, a fire safety training organization, I decided to address this challenge of the unbaked by starting a company called Airsave that now solves this problem. www.airsaveuganda.com. Down the road, over 3000 people have signed up and lives have been changed through digital saving platform as illustrated below.
Out of Uganda’s 40 million population, 90% are unbanked and 60% own mobile phones. The digital mobile saving platform can now easily be accessed by the 60% who have mobile phones by opening up a digital account without having to step in a bank.