Financial inclusion for refugees in Uganda: baseline report

We have launched a landmark study in Uganda with the aim of understanding the different sources of income for refugees in collaboration with FSD Uganda and BFA Global. This study aims to uncover the uses of their finances and the financial products and services they use and supporting the development of financial products and services offered by Equity Bank Uganda Limited (EBUL), Vision Fund Uganda (VFU) and Rural Finance Initiative (RUFI) and evaluating the impact of those products and services on refugee livelihoods.

Uganda is host to over 1.1 million refugees, most of whom are new arrivals from July 2016 as a result of instability in South Sudan. Uganda also has a progressive policy towards refugees allowing them to freely move, work, go to school and access healthcare. The refugee population also forms part of the country’s National Development Plan. According to 2018 figures from UNHCR and Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), refugees are economically active. A total of 45% are engaged in entrepreneurship or formal employment, 24% in farming, 15% receive remittances, and 6% receive assistance from UNHCR/WFP. Despite this, financial inclusion remains a challenge for the refugee population, with few financial service providers (FSPs) aware of or interested, preferring to focus on more traditional banking clients. As a result, most refugees are only able to access financial services through informal savings groups, SACCO linkage banking and mobile money. The limited new FSP activity that does exist tends to focus on mobile-enabled cash transfer services.