After going into partnership with PostBank , the Uganda army co-operative, Wazalendo, can now offer improved services to more than its 70,000 members. Wazalendo — Uganda's biggest and fastest growing Sacco in terms of membership, total mobilised savings, and deposits and growth in loan portfolio — said it will decentralise its transactions using PostBank's infrastructure and banking technology platform. The partnership will enable Wazalendo members — mainly Uganda Peoples Defence Forces personnel, reserve forces and staff of the ministry of defence — to transact at Post Bank's branches and other access points such as ATMs. PostBank has 25 ATMs in the country and a further 18 are to be rolled out this year. PostBank also has a deal with ATM services provider Interswitch to transact at the firm's ATMs, currently numbering 104. Since inception in 2005, Wazalendo has served its customers who are scattered across the country from only one location at the army headquarters in Bombo, 30km north of Kampala. "We went into this partnership because we realised we were at a crossroads; we were growing fast, but we had a problem — serving our members only in Bombo. The network of our Sacco countrywide is 18 branches, but the only paying branch is at Bombo. This impacted on efficiency and convenience. "A decision was taken to modernise and offer an industry acceptable service that is now expected as common practice by consumers," said Wazalendo chairman Brig Diba Ssentongo . In the last financial year that ended December 31, 2013 , Wazalendo share capital more than doubled, growing from Ush12.7 billion ( $5.1 million ) to Ush26.1 billion ( $10.7 million ); savings and deposits grew from Ush42.3 billion ( $17.07 million ) to Ush62.9 billion ( $25.3 million ). This figure represents nearly one-third of total savings, estimated at about Ush200 billion ( $80 million ), that the over 5,000 saccos in the country had mobilised by September 2013 , according to Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Minister Amelia Kyambadde . The army Sacco's loan portfolio outstanding rose from Ush56.4 billion ( $22.7 million ) to Ush79 billion ( $31.8 million ). According to Fred Mwesigye, the commissioner for co-operatives in the Ministry of Trade , Industry and Co-operatives, the Wazalendo-Post Bank deal will increase the Sacco's governance, accountability, efficiency and ease mobilisation of savings and deposits. Mr Mwesigye said Wazalendo's move is the first in Uganda . "There have been efforts in the past to link Saccos with banks to ease access to financial services but these efforts have not materialised," he said. This is because financial institutions are concentrated in urban areas.
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