BRAC Uganda has officially morphed into a fully-fledged bank, having operated for 13 years in the country as the leading microfinance institution.
BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd was formally unveiled yesterday as a Tier II Credit Institution, which under Ugandan laws is recognized as a bank.
Speaking at the launch at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Jimmy Adiga the new bank’s CEO equated the NGO’s transformation from Microfinance to Commercial banking, to “building a plane in the air without causing an accident.”
He said the change was part of the global NGO’s commitment to Uganda’s economy. He thanked the BRAC customers, most of whom are rural people for sticking around as well as the Central Bank for certifying and licensing the new bank.
BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd is now the first commercial bank outside of Bangladesh where the globally acclaimed NGO BRAC International is based.
BRAC was introduced in Uganda in 2006 after First Lady Janet Museveni visited its headquarters and invited them to Uganda.
In Uganda, it is joining the commercial bank’s market with a 270,000 strong clientele, majority of who, Adiga says are expected to open up saving accounts with the new bank.
“This is a key milestone in the 47-year journey of BRAC International and also the 13-year journey of BRAC Uganda,” he said.
“We intend to continue working with the poor people who live in rural areas, especially the women and youths who are most at risk. We want to eliminate discrimination, promote financial inclusion and continue on the just road that we set out.”
At the event, Bank of Uganda’s Director in Charge of Payment Systems Mckay Aoma, who represented Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende, advised the new bank to leverage the recent reforms in the banking sector to expand financial inclusion in rural Uganda.
BRAC Uganda Bank Ltd, he said, is coming in at the right time, when many good reforms have taken place, such as the amendments to the FIA (2016) under which Tier II Credit Institutions are recognized as banks.
As such, Chemonges noted, BRAC can fully enjoy the benefits of the Financial Institutions Act.
“The License you have also allows you to do Agent Banking, and can have partnerships with issuers of electronic money. You are therefore coming in at a time when the sector is taking a new direction of growth,” he said.