In 2014 Drop in the Bucket drilled a well at the Dokolo Kamuda primary school in Soroti, Along with the well, we also formed a village savings group for the local community.
A savings group is a structured system of lending and borrowing money that had been developed for use in rural communities. The idea is to create a village level bank where the villagers are the customers and the owners.
Money is collected before we drill by the community. This money becomes seed money that group members can borrow from to start small businesses. The members pitch their ideas for money making businesses to the group and the group selects the ideas they want to fund. People often start with simple projects such as raising crops or livestock, but as time goes on the ideas tend to get more ambitious.
Loans are paid back with interest and at the end of each year, the group members get to divide up the money.
The Dokolo Kamuda savings group grew so large, that the members had to split into two groups. Robert is a member of Group Two.
Robert spent several years working as an assistant to a vet. He later branched out on his own administering medicine to sick animals and handling routine procedures like de-worming cattle.
When Robert first joined the savings group, he already owned three young bulls. He had been looking to buy a third and was having difficulty saving the money he needed. He joined the Dokolo Kamuda village savings group and submitted his plan to purchase a fourth bull. He explained to the group that with a fourth bull he would be able to earn money ploughing fields for all of the local farmers..
Robert explained that he was going to charge 80,000 UGX per acre and that it takes on average about 2-3 days to plough a full acre. Because there is so much farming in the area, his services would be in high demand. The group agreed to lend him the money and they set an interest rate and a schedule for the repayments.
The first year went better than expected, so now Robert has decided to get a second plough. Because the bulls are now more mature, he will be able to use two bulls per plough instead of putting all four on just one. This will enable Robert to get twice as many fields ploughed each week and will also help the entire community to plant more crops during this season.
Later this year Robert intends to purchase a motorcycle so that he can increase the area where he works. This is a purchase he intends to make without having to borrow money from the group as his ploughing business is booming. The Dokolo-Kamuda village savings group has made so many things possible for Robert and he is so happy he is was able to join and participate.
Savings groups are a perfect example of how a small amount of money can make a huge impact on someone’s life. We are very proud of the difference groups like Robert’s are making and it is very exciting to see all of the small businesses that spring up from each group. It’s like each well starts a chain reaction of empowerment that ripples out through the community. We are grateful to be able to do this work and grateful to our donors for making this all possible.