Background of Uganda Women’s Finance Trust Ltd
UGANDA WOMEN’S FINANCE TRUST LIMITED (UWFT) takes pride in the fact that it is the oldest
indigenous micro finance institution in Uganda. UWFT developed its roots from a number of
conferences, which were taking place around the world starting with the International Women’s
Conference held in Mexico in 1975 that ended with the declaration of 1975-1985 a decade
dedicated to the empowerment of women. In reactivating political activities at national level after
the military rule of the 1970’s, the political leaders also felt challenged by the global call for women
empowerment and set up ‘women’ departments/wings within the political parties hence enhancing
the opportunities for women issues to be addressed.
Challenged from both the global and national angles, a group of professional and business women,
who themselves felt that the formal financial systems were not women friendly, took it upon
themselves to develop a mechanism that would enable low income women to access credit as a
tool for economic empowerment.
What were the issues that constrained women from accessing financial services in banks – one
may be tempted to ask? The actual structures were intimidating, the male staff had an attitude that
made the women even more scared, the requirements for opening a simple savings account did
not protect the financial privacy / confidentiality of married women. What is ironical is that a married
woman could operate a business account but not a personal account without the consent of her
spouse! Cultural practice (not law) constrained women from owning landed property that the banks
would require for collateral. The list is long.
Against this background UWFT was set up to offer a woman friendly financial environment
whereby women would be counseled and educated on the benefits of savings and utilizing credit
appropriately. Women were taught simple business management techniques, record keeping, just
to enable them operate their enterprises. No formal bank had the skills and what it takes to hand
hold these small credit customers as they were considered risky and in most cases unbankable.
The coming on the scene by UWFT was a very welcome development, which was followed by
many similar institutions. As of December 2002, there were approximately 500 documented micro
finance institutions and many member and community based organizations offering financial
services in Uganda.
Objectives for which UWFT was set up:
 to economically empower low income women through the provision of a package of
financial services in a convenient and efficient manner,
 to mainstream women into the economic development of Uganda,
 to educate women about financial services as a way of uplifting their standards and those
of their families and communities.
Vision: Low-income people have access to financial services.
Mission: To provide unique financial services to low income people in Uganda, especially women,
in a manner that delights our customers and adds value to our stakeholders.
Core Values:
The following core values define UWFT’s key shared beliefs and motivation:
Client focused products and services:
We believe in providing unique products and services that meets customer needs and exceeds
their expectations.
Attractive returns to all stakeholders:
We believe in efficient investment of our resources to create additional value for our customers,
investors and all stakeholders.
We believe in creating a transparent environment that gives confidence to all stakeholders.
We believe in new ideas and ways of doing things.
UWFT operates through twenty outlets divided into 5 regions for administrative purposes. Table 1
below shows the delivery network detailing the region of operation, the location of branch outlets and
the districts served. Appendix 1 has a map with details.
Area/ Region
Middle East
Branch Offices
Kampala; Entebbe; Mukono;
Kayunga and Lugazi
Masaka; Mbarara; Ntungamo;and
Mbale; Tororo; Pallisa; Busia
Kampala; Mpigi; Wakiso; Luwero; Kayunga &
Mbarara; Rakai; Kalangala; Ntungamo;
Rukingiri; Bushenyi; Kabale; Sembabule
Mbale; Tororo; Pallisa; Sironko; Kapchorwa
Near East
Far East
Jinja; Iganga; Kamuli and Bugiri
Kumi; Soroti and Kaberamaido;
Kamuli; Jinja; Bugiri; Iganga; Mayuge
Kumi; Soroti; Kaberamaido; Lira; Busia;
UWFT is registered both as an NGO as well as a Company limited by guarantee. However the
passing of the MDI Bill, presents a window of opportunity and UWFT is re-positioning itself to
transform into a regulated deposit taking institution (MDI), attract investors and reconstitute its
ownership into a company limited by shares.
The Impact of the Services:
The objectives of UWFT have been a strong driving force behind all the activities
undertaken by the organization.
The provision of small loans by UWFT enabled the women to break the stranglehold of
poverty on their lives. With a small loan they have been able to acquire access to
productive assets and to hired labour. This has led to an increase in productivity and
income. The loans were coupled with wise investment decisions and careful supervision.
 Clear and well documented policies and procedures especially for the credit operations,
internal controls, accounting and human resources.
 High on the learning curve – 19 years industrial experience
 Demonstrated client commitment
 Demonstrated potential for healthy growth of the business.
 Wide branch network (19), suitable for deeper penetration and future services like money
transfer and agency.
 Highly decentralized and functional branch network.
 Introduction of result-oriented, strategic management
 Good support and rapport with key donors
 Good industrial reputation
 Good performance based reward system
 Committed multi-disciplinary staff
The Future
Much as the formalization or transformation poses challenges, the opportunities far out
weigh the challenges. UWFT, with its dynamic leadership and highly motivated and
professional staff, is poised to set the pace for the micro finance industry in Uganda.
UWFT has been the leading institution in micro finance and will strive to maintain this
With its broadened vision to ensure that low-income people have access to financial
services, UWFT is an attractive and appropriate partner for investors seeking to get both
social and commercial return on their investments.
UWFT is committed to providing unique financial services that meet the needs of its
customers in a manner that delights them and at the same time add value for the
stakeholders – a situation where everybody is a winner.
The organisation structure is deliberately flat for effective management and responsiveness to
changes in the environment. Appendix 2 shows a detailed organogram. The Board of Directors is
composed of highly committed persons with a good mix of expertise and a wealth of experience.
The senior management is a strong team of dynamic professionals, well suited to lead the
company through a successful transformation process. Appendix 3 shows detailed profile for the
Board of Directors and Senior Management.
The Planning, Controlling and Monitoring Systems in the Institution:
UWFT has a systematized process that guides strategic planning on a rolling basis. It also has
guidelines for developing annual operational plans, which are derived from the strategic plan, and
annual budgets.
UWFT has established and documented Internal control systems which include but not limited to
the following:
 Financial management system that includes Budgetary controls, Accounting and
Financial controls, reporting and accountability.
 Credit management system that includes clear under writing policies and
procedures, monitoring and supervision guidelines, portfolio quality
 Human resource management that includes staff policies and procedures for
recruitment, capacity development, deployment, reward, retention and
 Management information system that includes computerized loan tracking
 A functional Internal Audit and Inspection system.
 A functional External Auditing currently carried out by Deloitte and Touche.
 The Board exercise overall oversight and control of the Institution through
established committees: (1) finance and operation committee which also
performs the Asset and Liability management role, (2) Personnel and
Administration committee.
Portfolio performance – lending and saving mobilization are the key activities of the Institution. The
monitoring of these activities is through IT “Loan Performer”, a loan tracking software developed
by Crystal Clear Ltd. There are also frequent field visits by management.
 An experienced and skilled senior management
 Committed Board members
 Clear and well documented credit and financial
 High on the learning curve – 19 years industrial
 Good support and rapport with key donors
 Client oriented culture
 Good industrial reputation
 Highly decentralised and functional branch
 Good performance based reward system
 Committed multi-disciplinary staff
 Marketing, Research and product development
function just being established
 Inadequate funding to finance growth and
 The staff are young and dynamic but with less
industry related skills. (Training programmes
are on-going)
 The Internal Audit department is not fully staffed
(but recruitment is on-going)
 Partly computerized accounting and loan
tracking system. (Installation of Solomon at
Head Office and branches on-going)
 A stable political environment
 Conducive macro-economic conditions (Steady
economic growth, low single digit inflation,
liberal interest rates)
 Government supportive of Micro-finance sector
 MDI bill friendly
 Banks see MFIs as business opportunities to
lend to
 Development agencies (donors) are still
supportive to the development of MFI industry
 Lack of credit references among the microfinance sector
 High cost of funds
 Many MFIs compete for very few financiers
 Low confidence in the Banking Industry
 Scarcity of Long term funds
 Private sector does not see the opportunity to
invest in micro-finance
 Potential disruptive government micro-finance
 Low credit culture
Appendix 1 Areas of Operation
Appendix 2 Organogram
Appendix 3 Board of Directors and
Management Profile