Buladde is evolving from ‘analogue’ to digital financial services

Our Reporter.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 was projected to be a short-term disruption but for some financial firms, it has triggered long-term changes on how to do business.

Buladde Financial Services is among the several financial institutions changing operations to suit customer preferences and the new ways of doing business.

Established in October 2016, Buladde seeks to provide an opportunity for its members to improve their security of tenure or ownership of land through voluntary savings and loans.

John Mark Ernest Golooba, the Buladde Financial Services Manager, describes the pandemic as a blessing in disguise because it paved the way for faster digital uptake. The restrictions on movement during the lockdown and the need to work remotely forced management to think differently.

“When we started, we were faced with a challenge of lack of a system in place. We were doing normal excel sheets and analogue-based system. So, we migrated to a digital system in 2021. We wanted to do this before but due to COVID, we were delayed,” Golooba notes, adding:

“The digital platform is meant to extend our services to members without the physical interface. You saw the challenges of the pandemic such as restricted movements but also, we found it costly for people to move as areas of operations were out of reach.”

“So, digital services were very important in ensuring that our members are served better. We migrated to an online system and we have been cleaning our data to have all the required information to serve them better.”

According to Golooba, Buladde currently has 2,459 active members including about 1,600 who are accessing credit services.

He explains that loans being serviced by its members amount to over UGX1.8 billion. The loans were given to ensure that the members have access to affordable credit facilities for the betterment of their social, economic, and financial conditions.

Buladde Financial Services is participant number 27 in the 2022 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative, organized by HiPipo in partnership with Mojaloop, ModusBox, Crosslake Technologies, Level One Project, and supported by the Gates Foundation.

Golooba is appreciative of the initiative noting that it is helping players learn more about digital financial services. He nonetheless notes that the costs involved in digital financial services are a hindrance to faster adaption, an issue that further delays financial inclusion.

Run under HiPipo’s Include Everyone program that also encompasses other initiatives such as FinTech Landscape Exhibition, Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit & Incubator and the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit and Digital Impact Awards Africa; the #40Days40FinTechs platform aptly provides a setting for the various players and stakeholders involved in digital and financial technology to exhibit their products & Services and also share their ideas on how more of us, especially those unserved and underserved by the present financial systems, can be brought into the fold.

The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative offers participants useful tools and an introduction to industry’s emerging technologies, such as Mojaloop Open Source Software, and guidance from Level One Project foundational material. The skills gained from this initiative cover Level One Project Principles, Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), Inclusive Finance and FinTech in general.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO applauded Buladde Financial Service for the progress achieved so far, noting that in the last three years Buladde has grown from a pure cash organization to cash-lite currently.

“When we first engaged Buladde, they were largely a cash organization. However, Golooba and his team have been committed to transforming the organization. It is not surprising that they have now introduced a digital financial management system. We are committed to continuing to help organizations like Buladde in their efforts to achieve total digitization,” Kawooya said, adding;

“Despite the rapid adoption of digital financial services, an average of 40 percent of Africa’s adult population remains financially excluded. Financial exclusion continues due to the lack of interoperable, open-loop, cost-effective, real-time and secure retail payments systems/switches to digitally connect large numbers of low-income users onto formal financial rails. The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is accelerating discussions on building industry-led Instant and Inclusive Payment System (IIPS) across the East African region and continent.”