On Sunday it will be ten years since a few dozen young Christians at the Kampala Pentecostal Church sat down to address their financial limitations.
“That was our very first meeting,” Y-Save CEO Dunstan Kisule said in a recent interview.
Now numbering a few hundred they will converge on Kati Kati this Sunday, 24 January, to celebrate and take stoke of their achievements.
After the meeting Y-SAVE (Young Savers Association in Ventures and Enterprise) was born with an initial 15 members and a three person executive.
Membership was acquired with the payment of sh5,000 and by buying a sh10,000 share. In addition to retain membership one was expected to save at least sh5,000 every three months.
“But we kept pushing up requirements up to its current sh50,000 a month per member,” Kisule said.
Today the association has a membership of 340 adult members and about 1,000 children – children for whom their parents contribute and who will decide when they come of age whether they want to be full members or otherwise.
Since then Y-Save has grown in corporate sophistication and financial strength.
With little structure to speak off – they were not even officially registered; Y-Save acquired its first property at the end of its first year of operations, a 26 acre piece of land in Kyaliwajjala.
“When we bought the land we were not a legal entity so we formed Y-Investments Ltd for purposes of buying the land,” Kisule said.
However with its growing financial strength the regularization of Y-Save’s operations became more urgent.
“In 2002 we called in a consultant to look at the business, he said there was a major contradiction because the association was illegal and the real estate company was not filing any return… He advised us to become a SACCO (Savings and Credit Cooperative).”
In 2004 Y-save was finally registered as a SACCO and the following year it got its first employee and office premises at Buganda road flats, “to be near the church.”
Today Y-Save has 5 employees including Kisule who resigned his job from the National Housing Corporation in 2008 to take up the position.
“The feeling was that we are growing and need the vision of the company to be directed on a fulltime basis,” Kisule said, who was the first chairman of the organisation.
It pays its Tax and NSSF dues and he believes is on a steady path to sustainable growth.
Y-Save now boasts savings of more than a billion shillings and book value of, “a few billion shillings.”
And they are not resting on their laurels.
“Currently we are working to become a Micro-Deposit Taking Institution (MDI), we are looking for strategic partners because bank of Uganda regulations do not allow for one owner, then our vision is that this will grow into a bank … to become a world class financial institution,” Kasule says.
Their faith in God, leadership, integrity, honesty and cohesion deriving from their shared faith Kisule says, is the key to their success.
“In addition we run it like a business and once you have that mentality you grow… many other SACCOs are not run as businesses and do not try to grow,” he said.
The benefits to their members have ranged from the intangible – a new self confidence t othemore tangible – homes, cars, business.
“Our members have adopted a saving culture and have increased their financial literacy,” he said. The association every so often calls in experts on financial management to come in and speak to their members.
“Its important that their financial literacy is improved so that even if they are not actively involved in the running of the organization they understand what they are doing and how it will impact on their situation.
The board and management team annually go on a weekend retreat to examine their practices and map out strategy for the coming year.
“We have learnt that for the sake of our members we have an obligation to keep growing, but this growth must be planned and anchored by long term goals … we have to be increasingly professional in how we run Y-Save,” Dunstan said.
Published January 2010, New Vision