Mobile Money, Saccos Dominate Formal Borrowing Among Ugandan Adults: Survey

Mobile Money, Saccos Dominate Formal Borrowing Among Ugandan Adults: Survey
Uganda shillings notes. PHOTO/FILE

Summary:

  • A survey by Financial Sector Deepening Uganda shows that mobile money and Saccos are the top formal borrowing sources for Ugandan adults, each comprising 16% of borrowers. Over five years, 51% of adults borrowed, with 11.6 million using formal channels. Mobile money and Saccos collectively serve 7.8 million borrowers.

According to a survey conducted by Financial Sector Deepening Uganda, Mobile money and Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Saccos) are the primary sources of formal borrowing for adults in Uganda. The survey, titled FinScope Uganda 2023, reveals that these two channels collectively account for 32 percent of formal borrowing, with each comprising 16 percent.

The report indicates that 3.9 million adult Ugandans access credit through Saccos, mirroring the number of individuals utilizing mobile money for the same purpose.

Funded by Bank of Uganda, aBi Finance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the survey spans five years up to 2023. It found that within this period, 51 percent of the adult population, equivalent to 12.5 million individuals out of 24.6 million, borrowed money from various sources. These sources include mobile money, Saccos, banks, credit institutions, micro deposit-taking institutions, saving groups, and familial connections.

The borrowing is categorized into formal and informal channels. Saccos, banks, credit institutions, and micro deposit-taking institutions fall under formal lending, while saving groups and family and friends constitute informal borrowing.

Among the 12.5 million borrowers, 11.6 million accessed credit through formal channels, while 1.5 million borrowed informally. Notably, mobile money and Saccos emerge as the most prominent sources of formal credit, catering to 7.8 million adult Ugandans collectively.

Banks follow closely, extending credit to 1.9 million individuals, while credit institutions and micro deposit-taking institutions serve 984,000 and 738,000 borrowers respectively. Only 246,000 adult Ugandans opt for microfinance institutions for credit.

On the informal front, more than half of the 900,000 adult Ugandans engaged in informal borrowing obtained loans from saving groups, while the remainder relied on family and friends.

However, the report does not provide insights into the monetary value of credit acquired through different channels. The survey, based on a sample of 3,176 Ugandans across the country, claims to represent the entire adult population of 24.6 million.

Furthermore, the survey highlights that at least 17.2 million adult Ugandans consistently spend beyond their earnings, indicating a reliance on family and friends, personal savings, and borrowing to bridge financial gaps.

Over the five-year period leading up to 2023, Uganda’s adult population, defined as individuals aged 16 and above, witnessed a notable increase from 18.6 million in 2018 to 24.6 million.

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