By Aggery Twesigye
Banyankole kweterana Cooperative Union Limited, a historic cooperative from western Uganda, is struggling to operate due to crippling debts.
Once a leading coffee union in Uganda, Banyankole kweterana has endured decades of steady decline, struggling in vain to regain it’s heyday, Banyankole kweterana consisted of 358 members of primary Cooperatives, but currently has 67 only active Cooperatives.
The sorry state of the union was revealed on Thursday at the Cooperatives 50th Annual General Meeting at the union’s premises in Kakoba division, Mbarara city south.
Abaasa Ainamaani Rubaromba the board chairman of the union shared that the debts which originate from the previous regime have done much in crippling its performance.
As a result, Rubaromba said that the Annual General Meeting of delegates resolved to sale the union’s land which measures 55 acres in Mutonto cell, Rubaya sub county Mbarara district in order to service the chocking debts of the union.
He added the supervisory report which was presented to delegates during the AGM, failed to account for 67 million which got lost in the reign of Julius Tugume the former General manager and Monic Tibihwayo the union’s former cashier.
However, the AGM which sat at the union’s premises in Kakoba, resolved to have former members of the union who embezzled it’s money to refund it.
Winnie Turyamureeba a representative from Ministry of Trade, industry and Cooperatives expressed concern over the unaccounted for shs.67 million which the supervisory committee failed to account for. She further challenged the union to revamp it’s production.
Magret Birungi the union’s General manager revealed that the union has 58 tons of coffee in stores out of the 100 tons of coffee projected to be collected in the previous financial year ,2022/23.
Andrew Zimbe, regional manager Microfinance Support Centre urged the union leadership to avail a repayment plan which will assist it in benefitting from its financial services only if the management can avail commitment to pay the remaining debt owed.
It’s worth noting that despite selling off nearly it’s entire asset-base to offset it’s debts, Banyankole kweterana Cooperative Union remains significantly indebted.
In 2017, Banyankole kweterana borrowed shs.1.5 billion from the microfinance support center to shore up it’s fledgling coffee business.
The money was supposed to be paid back in 2 years, but four years later, the union has only been able to pay back shs.250 million, with an unpaid balance of shs.1.25 billion.
The union also owes audit firm springs and Associates shs.40 million in audit fees. Other creditors are Uganda Central Cooperatives Financial Services (UCCFS) to which the union owes shs.150 million, and the shared interest social lenders to which the union owes shs.400 million.