Accion to Expand Mobile Money to Rural Uganda

Partnership with UGAFODE MDI to serve communities excluded from Uganda’s formal economy

KAMPALA, Uganda – November 16, 2015 – Accion, the global innovator in expanding access to financial services and economic opportunity in emerging markets, said today that it will help rural Ugandans open formal savings accounts, receive business loans, and access many other financial services that they need to build better lives through its new partnership with UGAFODE Microfinance Limited (“UGAFODE MDI”), one of the fastest growing microfinance institutions in Uganda today. Working alongside the local entrepreneurs who helped found UGAFODE MDI as well as current investors Uganda Agency for Development Limited, Access Africa Fund (a MicroVest-managed fund), and Fonds Européen de Financement Solidaire pour l’Afrique, Accion will invest roughly UGX 4.8 billion into the new partnership, which will focus on digital financial services, notably agent banking, and mobile money services that are tailored to support farmers, businesses, and communities excluded from Uganda’s formal economy.

“Millions of Ugandans lack basic ways to build savings, start a business, or build a home,” said Accion CEO and President Michael Schlein. “UGAFODE MDI has made great strides to address that, but we believe that, together, we can do much more, and have an even greater impact across Uganda. To do so, we will deploy digital applications to extend savings and other financial services to rural Ugandans, where most people work on farms or raise their own crops to earn a living.”

“Our new partnership with Accion will help UGAFODE MDI expand across Uganda and provide still more quality financial services to the communities, families, farmers, and entrepreneurs who have made do without them for far too long,” said UGAFODE MDI CEO Wilson Twamuhabwa. “Combining Accion’s insights and decades of experience with UGAFODE MDI’s record of reaching rural communities will make an important difference for Uganda’s people and businesses.”

Innovative technological improvements will account for an increasing percentage of UGAFODE MDI’s reach. The institution is already using a grant from the MasterCard Foundation and administered through the United Nations Capital Development Fund to promote micro-deposits for customers who have their savings accounts linked to mobile money. The program allows mobile money agents to sell scratch cards that, once used, automatically credit clients’ UGAFODE MDI savings accounts. The program has helped to more than triple group savings and UGAFODE MDI expects that it will continue to increase as a result of further micro-deposit integration.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Ugandans have access to formal lending or borrowing, and rural Ugandans are often left to fend for themselves financially. Since 1994, UGAFODE MDI has been working to change that. The organization began as an NGO, and since its inception has focused on underserved and overlooked communities, investing in the rural and suburban areas that many others ignore. Today, UGAFODE MDI is one of the fastest-growing financial institutions in Uganda, serving more than 58,440 borrowers and savers. More than half of UGAFODE MDI’s clients work in agriculture, and 80% of its branches are located in rural and suburban areas.

Accion believes that UGAFODE MDI can serve many more Ugandans, and make an even bigger impact for the country and its economy. Accion will bring decades of experience developing top-tier MFIs to help UGAFODE MDI become a national institution that remains focused on rural and suburban communities.

UGAFODE MDI plans to open more branches in the east and north of the country and become a truly national institution; with Accion as a partner, the institution plans to manage over 60,000 loans and 200,000 savings accounts, and make a significant push for broader financial inclusion across Uganda within the first five years of investing.

Key figures:

  • 2.6 million Ugandans lack access to formal savings, loans, and other financial services
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 Ugandans have access to formal lending or borrowing
  • Most of these financially excluded people live in rural areas
  • UGAFODE MDI is a regulated deposit-taking microfinance institution, and 80% of its operations are in rural and suburban areas
  • UGAFODE MDI currently serves more than more than 58,440 borrowers and  savers
  • Accion’s UGX 4.8 billion investment will help UGAFODE MDI expand its mobilization of savings using mobile phones, and other financial services across rural Uganda
  • With Accion’s partnership and guidance, UGAFODE MDI plans to manage over 60,000 loans and 200,000 savings accounts within the first five years on investing

About Accion:

Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world with economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. We are building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions, and over more than 50 years have helped build 64 such institutions in 32 countries on four continents that today reach millions of clients. Our impact investing initiatives are pushing beyond microfinance to catalyze more than 20 innovative start-ups dedicated to improving the efficiency, reach and scope of financial services for the poor. And our Center for Financial Inclusion is helping to build a stronger industry with high standards and broad engagement. Currently, our work spans nearly two dozen countries, including the U.S., where we are the nation’s largest nonprofit microfinance network. For further information, visit

Sign up to receive emails