A team from COINS Foundation visited Uganda in July to pilot a filming project set to continue over the next 5-10 years. Supported and hosted by our delivery partner, Habitat for Humanity Uganda (HFHU), we met five families living in rural areas. Each of these families had taken out financial loans to improve their homes. Unlike in the UK and most of the developed world, the norm in Uganda is to build homes incrementally, stage by stage, slowly building up a lifetime asset. COINS Foundation is capturing the impact of Home Improvement Loans over time.

Why microfinance?

The aim of Habitat for Humanity’s microfinance programme in Uganda is to support increasing numbers of low-income families to build decent affordable housing. This programme helps families to finance their housing needs, families who are unable to access bank credit for home construction. Rather than HFHU building a house for a family, microfinance serves a greater number of people. Families own their own homes; these families are wholly independent. Those taking out loans are termed ‘clients’, and have their own ideas of how to improve their home. Through microfinance, families begin to work on their house – in simple stages – and can move into a good home in which to raise their family. With or without Habitat for Humanity and COINS Foundation these families have these ideas and dreams, but with this support, the reality of their dreams is brought closer.

Creating financially literate communities

HFHU implements a Financial Education Project under its Housing Microfinance Programme – this covers five modules: budgeting, savings, bank services, financial negotiations and debt management. Within Luwero district, financial education training is delivered to over 600 people throughout the year – enabling low-income groups to improve their financial management. Not only does this have a knock-on effect on loan repayment rates, it minimises clients’ exploitation by some financial institutions. It is provided at no cost to participants and addresses lack of financial knowledge among households equipping them with money management skills.

Focus on Luwero, Central Uganda

We filmed families in Luwero, a district in central Uganda. Almost all families in the district depend on subsistence farming – 95% of the total population practice agriculture. Less than half (42%) have access to safe water – in one community the borehole serving 420 families was broken and out of use. In response, community members were raising money and paying in small amounts of cash to the borehole committee and their treasurer, who look after maintenance.

Tracking progress made

We have begun to follow families on their journeys to capture their multiple stories. We are looking to see the effect that home improvement has on family life – from health to education to income generation. We hope that over the next five to ten years, we can document the stories of these families in such a way to influence the next generation to think differently about poverty, disability and injustice.

Resilience of spirit

Each family we met has their own personal and individual story – but universally, all families showed a resilience of spirit. Their hope was made obvious by their inspiring entrepreneurial and commercial nature and a strong desire to invest in their children’s education and their own income generating activities.

A decent home brings dignity

As part of a commitment, COINS Foundation will give up to £100,000 each year to Habitat for Humanity’s Microfinance Programme. This funding is in line with our key core values; giving a hand-up, not a hand out, to a sustainable project where clients are in control of their own development.