Food for thought, are there investors who would like to invest in a akiring n’ebaga (Christmas meat) enterprise in Teso? It is a sure deal win-win for all. Let us do the math with a case study.
In 2014, at the beginning of the year, my aunts, like many in rural areas of Teso, each deposited with their respective savings group their savings of 40,000 shillings and for a period of 10 months on the promise that they would each end up with 10 to 13 kilograms of beef for Christmas.
At Christmas that year, however, a group that two of my aunts belong failed to afford a cow. Apparently, the cows on the market were small and overpriced. But even then, the leadership of the group returned cash – 60,000 shillings to each of their members (at least that is what my aunts got back).
The prices of meat in Pallisa, my home district, at that time were in the range of 7,000 shillings per kilogram. This means that my aunts would have gotten a good deal – nearly 100 percent return on their investment – meat worth 70,000 to 91,000 shillings, from their investment of 40,000 shillings.
And so, even though they made a 50 percent return on their investment, their investment did not achieve its original purpose. ‘Meat-wise’, they technically made an over 50 percent loss on their investment. This is because, with the cash that they received back, they were not able to buy 10 to 13 kilograms of meat at Christmas.
If they had gotten the meat, they would have had the choice to sell some of it and would have made a good profit – possibly of as high as 100 percent per kilogram.
I share this post in order to challenge the notion that rural residents of Uganda don’t have a culture of saving, they do. More accurately, what is happening instead is that duty bearers are out of sync and are not taking advantage of the existing cultures of saving.
And because they are out of sync with realities in Teso, for example, duty bearers are instead introducing and promoting alien savings schemes whose design is culturally inappropriate. Hence, such projects, and numerous they have been, are doomed from the get go.