Kampala, Uganda – Citi announced today the launch of two loans, disbursed in Ugandan Shillings, which will enable BRAC Uganda Bank and Opportunity Bank to provide microloans to nearly 20,000 micro-businesses, of whom 92% are women. These transactions will help boost financial access and support economic stability for low income communities in Uganda, which are especially vulnerable to financial shocks due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.
According to the World Bank, one in five (nearly 8 million) people in Uganda are living below the poverty line on less than 7220 UGX (US$1.90) per day. Access to financial services is a critical aspect of economic stability for individuals in emerging markets. Yet, in Uganda, 13% fewer women have a bank account than their male counterparts. Lower-income households across the country also have less access, with a gap of 20% between higher income and lower income individuals.
"Citi Uganda is proud to bring to life our mission of enabling growth and economic progress," said Sarah Arapta, Citi Country Officer in Uganda. "The BRAC Uganda Bank and Opportunity Bank transactions are a clear demonstration of the positive impact Citi is making, through affordable finance to the livelihoods of small but vital business who are at the helm of propelling financial inclusion and its contributory effect on the overall stability and growth of the Ugandan economy."
BRAC Uganda Bank is one of the largest microfinance institutions in the country, lending primarily to women borrowers who operate businesses that provide products or services to their local communities. Clients use traditional microfinance group lending to apply for loans, make repayments and access services in health, education, business development and livelihood support.
With Citi's UGX 15 billion (US$4 million) financing, BRAC will be able to reach 17,000 more micro-businesses, 98% of whom are women. Serving more than 210,000 micro businesses nationally, BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd maintains 163 branches of the small enterprise program, with nearly 2,200 staff, 99% of whom are Ugandan nationals and 85% are women.
"The role of BRAC working with the poor to provide both social and financial services become more critical during and post COVID-19 pandemic where lives and livelihoods have been disrupted, said Jimmy Adiga, Managing Director for BRAC Bank Uganda Limited. "This disruption is worse for the poor owing to weak socio-economic safety nets and BRAC has already granted repayment moratorium for borrowers during this period. We now focus on sensitizing customers about COVID-19 prevention and supporting government efforts to fight the virus through donations."
Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited is a technology-led microfinance institution that expands access to finance to a wide range of borrowers, including education (schools, teachers, and families) and agriculture (farmers, processers and input suppliers). They serve nearly 20,000 clients through a network of 23 branches, 22 ATM Points as well as alternative channels across the country, including its Opportunity mobile banking system. Citi's UGX 7.6 billion (US$2 million) in financing will enable Opportunity Bank to increase its clients by 11%.
"Opportunity Bank Uganda is passionate about helping our people, our country, and our continent rise out of poverty. We work in rural and peri-urban communities, training our clients in financial literacy and micro-business management," said Tineyi Mawocha, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity Bank Uganda. "The partnership with Citi will help us extend our outreach to the underserved or those who have not had formal access to financial services."
"Opportunity is proud to work alongside partners like Citi to equip micro-businesses in Uganda. In a season when COVID-19 is upending economies and ravaging the lives of those who were already most vulnerable, this partnership is more critical than ever. Small business owners need support now—and we're grateful to Citi for investing in these families and their livelihoods," said Atul Tandon, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity International.
"Both of these timely deals are part of the Global Inclusive Finance Framework, an innovative feature of our collaboration with U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC, formerly the Overseas Private Investment Corporation), which spans guarantees, co-lending and political risk insurance, enabling inclusive businesses and local microfinance institutions in emerging markets to extend microloans to borrowers," said Eugene Amusin, Senior Vice President, Citi Inclusive Finance.
Under Citi/DFC programs, Citi country businesses, Citi Inclusive Finance and the Institutional Clients Group's Export Agency Finance Group have provided over US$538 million in financing to 59 inclusive businesses in 27 countries, reaching over 1.4 million entrepreneurs, 87% of which are women. To date, Citi has cumulatively disbursed nearly US$1 billion in loans to 89 microfinance institutions and inclusive businesses through 131 transactions. An overwhelming majority (3.1 million or 93%) of the 3.3 million micro borrowers served are women.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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BRAC Uganda Bank
Serving more than 210,000 micro businesses (borrowers) nationally, BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd maintains 163 branches or service points and 31 of these are regulated, with nearly 2,200 staff, 99% of whom are Ugandan nationals and 85% are women.
Opportunity Bank Uganda
Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited has for the last 25 years dedicated its efforts and resources to the transformation of lives and the communities in which it operates by providing savings and loan products to a multitude of customers. The core mission is offering innovative technology-led financial solutions and training to transform lives of ordinary individuals, micro, small and medium size entrepreneurs. We do this with care, respect and in a sustainable way. Additional information may be found at www.opportunitybank.co.ug