In just a few months in 2012, a savings drive launched by Opportunity Uganda increased the value of clients’ deposits by 23%, according to the bank’s CEO, André Lalumière. André attributes the campaign’s success to radio advertising and weekend branch events that help staff engage the local community. When Opportunity clients have a safe place to save, they’re able to plan for the future and protect themselves against the unexpected.
At the end of 2010, Opportunity Uganda had 28,003 customers with savings and 46,099 savings customers by the end of 2011. From 2010 to 2011, the total value of Opportunity Uganda’s savings deposits had increased by almost 70%.
At one food- and music-filled drive at the Nateete bank branch on the outskirts of Kampala, over 50 staff members spoke with more than 500 prospective savers. The bank collected over $800 in deposits over the weekend and an additional $1,200 in new deposits over the following two weeks. As a result of the drive, 105 people opened savings accounts with Opportunity Uganda.
According to André, the most important element of the campaign is educating potential clients about the importance of savings as a tool for expanding businesses, purchasing land, saving for old age and securing school fees.
“Approximately 50% of our customers have never had a savings account until now,” André said. The reasons he cites are many, including geographical barriers, low literacy and the perception that banks are only for the rich or highly educated. Low-income earners are often wary of monthly bank charges, and are not accustomed to trusting that anyone else will securely hold their money. Yet, having a safe place to save, especially when the account bears interest, is one of the most important tools people can use to prevent slipping back into poverty when an unexpected expense occurs.
“We are committed to serving our clients in ways that build their trust in us and, as a result, build a more secure future for them,” André said.