Microfinance is widely viewed as a solution to alleviating poverty in the developing world, a view that is shared by Embrace It Africa. In 2008, EIA established its microfinance savings and credit cooperative, Mikwano SACCO. A savings and credit cooperative differs from a microfinance institution in that community members own shares of the cooperative when they open an account with Mikwano. Since the community is part-owner of the bank, the regulations and operations of Mikwano was created in close collaboration with community members to ensure that our services would have the highest impact on the lives of our clients given their geographic, economic, or social circumstances.
Mikwano services include:
- Microcredit – Mikwano offers both individual and group loans to community members to boost their business activities or to start a new business. Our loans have been used for such activities as livestock, vegetable and fruit farming, welding, metalworking, and sewing.
- Business consulting – As part of receiving a microloan, we offer monthly business seminars that aim to encourage the business activities of our clients. These seminars are on topics like water harvesting, cash crop investment, and best savings practices among others.
- Traditional savings accounts – Each member of the SACCO opens a savings account that receives between 0.25% and 0.5% interest per month.
- Save To Win Fixed Deposit Accounts – Known as lottery-linked savings accounts, portions of deposits and interest on accounts are distributed to account holders as monthly prizes.
Mobile money services allow for the rapid transfer of money between people in Uganda, through their cell phones. Phone companies like MTN and AirTel offer these services and license individuals and organizations to facilitate these services as "mobile money agents". As an agent for each company, Mikwano SACCO can facilitate these transactions in the community, while receiving comissions for the work.