Tuesday 4 June 2024

“I am highly indebted” said one of my friends ”I have a debt with a family member, friends, colleagues at work and I also got into mobile app loans. Even right now, I have a debt with the mobile operators, I prefer for you to initiate and I withdraw from an agent. I am in a total mess, How can I get out of this?”

Photo From Jaspreet Singh Mail

By Arthur Moses Opio 

"This recent surge in global debt (since the pandemic)," says Jaspreet Singh, "is the largest, fastest, and most widespread increase since World War II."

Debt might be inevitable but we can avoid the debt trap.

“I am highly indebted” said one of my friends ”I have a debt with a family member, friends, colleagues at work and I also got into mobile app loans. Even right now, I have a debt with the mobile operators, I prefer for you to initiate and I withdraw from an agent. I am in a total mess, How can I get out of this?”

You are a target and how is this happening. They put it in your face, they message you to tell you need it, they give you offers of increased loan limits. Yes, that is the debt trap we are in. As a man, debt might be inevitable but you need next level discipline on how to manage it. 

I borrowed some money before, it’s easy getting it but it’s never nice paying back but yes a responsible person must pay his debt to ensure he or she is credit worthy with friends, family and different institutions.


We all know that our public debt has risen and it’s not quite good but I might be wrong, at least what I have seen reported in the papers that children not born already owe 1 million Uganda shillings all stem to an issue of debt management. 

On Monday, April 26, 2021 an article came out on Daily Monitor saying, "Each Ugandan now owes Shs1.5m as national debt hits Shs65trn."

On Monday, April 19, 2021, a headline came out in Daily Monitor saying, "MTN clients borrowed Shs435b  in mobile money loans in 2020"  - The writer said, there was, "Increased appetite for short term credit." Another wrote on, Tuesday, April 11, 2023, "MTN lending grows to Shs401b, moving to within some commercial bank levels.

On March 04, 2024 Another article came out, "MTN targets to lend Shs1 trillion in mobile money users with business loans”The reporter further mentioned, "The target is double the Shs550b, which MTN at the weekend indicated had been advanced to customers in the period ending December 2023.".

Now, enough of the statistics, the question I have is, "Who is being targeted?" Your guess is as good as mine. I get a lot of unsolicited messages from the operators to get a mobile loan, even when I have never, they increased my loan limit. 

You see the more I market something, the more it becomes normal and that’s part of the strategy any influential entity will employ. What we do today stems down to what we heard, what we have seen and the specific incidents we have been in. 

I have seen how due to huge debt, someone’s life savings got wiped

Now, you can do this to get out of debt, they are suggestions, but you might have more tricks:

  1. Make a list of all your creditors.
  2. Prioritise debt owed to employees or subordinates.
  3. Pay off the debt with the highest interest.
  4. Take the initiative to pay off your debt or at least to negotiate with your creditors: “Do not wait until they are looking for you, have a plan detailing your circumstances, when and how much you will pay them.” says DSA.

On top of that, ensure you have an emergency fund (at least UGX 1,000,000), try and build it before so that incase of any issues while tackling the debt, you have a fall back position. You can use the debt snowball method or Avalanche.

UGX 1,000,000 Emergency Fund Challenge:

You can join my challenge of building an emergency fund of UGX 1,000,000. You can use the bank, money market fund like @Xeno, UAP, Sanlam, Britam, etc.

  • If we are to divide that money by 12 months, we will need UGX 83,333.33 per month (We can easily spend this kind of money on a woman every month.)
  • Divide 83,333.33 by 30 days , we will need UGX 2,777.77. When it’s broken down this way, 1m can’t be compared to UGX 2,777.77 - now that’s easy to deal with.
  • Now that amount of money is what many of us spend on Kikomando(Chapati & beans), airtime, rolex, gonja and this means, the UGX 1,000,000 Emergency Fund can be hit in the shortest time possible. We normally do lunch of 5k, 10k, 15k - Some even do CJs, or KFS of 45k and 50k weekly, so why not build this financial base today so that we can have cushion capital. Your emergency fund is like your Insurance , look at it that way. 
  • We only need a mental shift. Instead of Rolex(Chapati & Eggs), breakfast or lunch of 10k, put that in the emergency fund, remember you only need close to 3k everyday to reach the UGX 1,000,000 challenge . This is possible. Let’s do it. It’s not enough to know, You must start.
  • You can start by packing lunch, eating one or two meals a day. Balancing from your shopping can also go into your emergency pot.

Debt holds back a lot of money that can be used to build your wealth. 

"A booming economy means consumers are spending money, businesses are seeing growing revenues, and investors are getting bigger profits." Jaspreet said, "In fact, it benefits the economic system (in the short term) when consumers go deep into debt to spend money." He further mentioned, "Please note, it is not your patriotic duty to be broke to stimulate the economy."

You could be someone who has used debt well to build yourself, I cheer you on. But for many who are stuck, the best thing is to stop being a slave, you can’t owe everyone(family, friends, colleagues, neighbours) and institutions. You could either lose your reputation, life, property or get jailed. Be on top of this money thing.

Remember personal finance is 80% behaviour and 20% head knowledge. 

Don’t try and solve behavioural issues in a mathematical way, start by fixing your behaviour.

Friday 24 May 2024

Very few Ugandans are confident in their financial situation ~ Finscope Report(2023)

AI generated Picture

By Arthur Moses Opio

I kept asking myself whether I should pen this down or not. Let me start with this question, "Are you confident in your financial situation?” For me, my answer is a straight NO and it’s down to many factors. A majority of the factors are external and being in what Kiyosaki termed the rat race just makes it even worse. 

The Finsope report I have been reading says, 

"Very few Ugandans are confident in their financial situation. Only 11% are satisfied with their financial situation. 60% of adult Ugandans are not confident in their financial plans for old age.”

These are some of the things that breed low confidence in the financial situation many of us are in [Some Excerpts Are From The Book, How To Secure Your Financial Future by Dr. Sunday Adelaja]

  1. Lack of financial education(Education system designed to only create employees): We have gone through school and many of us have never had a curriculum about money. In fact we know too few things about money that when the topic is raised, it is a taboo.
  2. We are looking for miracles (We even have to sow seeds to twist the arm of God): Don’t get me wrong miracles do happen but more than ever, we need people to know that it’s through diligence and working (exchanging your time or skills for an income) that many of us have to embody. We might argue and say, ah! My family and friends have got my back. How long can that be sustained? Emergencies keep coming.
  3. We have financial goals but many of them are not clear, they are vague: e.g I want to earn 10m, how can that happen if it’s not specific. We have no strong reasons to even backup why we need the 10m. 
  4. We don’t pay ourselves: When we get paid, we pay everyone else but ourselves. The solution is to put yourself on the payroll.
  5. We are not part of a supportive environment: Our environments determine a lot how we interact with this money thing. So many years ago, a colleague pushed me to get a loan but I got denied. No one was pushing me to invest but I was just being told, since you earn a salary you can get a loan but for what.
  6. The world system is a trap in itself - Imagine, we try so much to keep up like the Jones, David’s and Michael’s: We have basically bench marked our lives against so and so, it’s even worse if they are on social media and we don’t know them personally. I imagine the village man has less money pressures, he can’t go homeless because he has built his hut but here in the city where we can’t grow food, you pay for almost everything, without money, life sacks,  in the US, people go homeless.
  7. Celebrities: We have a dominant culture that celebrate Celebrities. In the previous years, everyone wanted to be like Mike, so we were sold AIR Jordans and to have one was to show that you have arrived. DSA says, "Advertisers and companies parade them and use them to sell products. They know the culture has esteemed these athletes so much, everybody wants to be like them. Advertisers have used campaigns like “BE LIKE MIKE” to sell us shoes and other products because they knew people wanted to be like the legendary American basketball player Michael Jordan. Even entrepreneurs who have made billions within 5 to 10 years are constantly in the news. We are always told how much they are worth and the size of the companies they have built. They have superstar status around the world. They are ranked in world famous magazines such as Forbes in order of their wealth; the one with the highest net worth is ranked first. As a result, many people are living for achievements, to make money so that they too can be celebrated.
  8. Debt Trap: The argument of debt is not one many of us can win. Yours truly was educated through loans and I think the gist of the matter comes down to management. I would argue not to go for it unless you are getting to top up on something you have already started and need a boost but I might be wrong and stand to be corrected. I just know debt can be one huge trap. Banks are aggressive in Marketing debt products. To wed, there are now loans ready to be quickly cashed in. I will share a few stats on debt later on.

We need to do soul searching to help us in this area. If only 11% of Ugandans are confident of their financial situation then how about the 89%. Many of us are in the 89% bracket but the good news is the knowledge is there. Over the weekend while having a chat with a couple, one of them remarked and said, "I have the plans, the only problem has been execution. What I learn from your talk is that I must get out and execute."

I once learnt that, "The only way to permanently change the temperature in the room," said T. Harv Eker, "is to reset the thermostat. In the same way, the only way to change your level of financial success ‘permanently’ is to reset your financial thermostat.

I got a message from a follower on X and this is what he said,

"I am grateful for your guidance into @XenoUganda. I have experienced growth personally and with my family on the values of savings and investment. Not only me, but My friends and relatives are Learning with me as well"

How we respond to external factors is also key in developing confidence. The stoic Marcus Aurelius says, "You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength." - It is also written in the scripture, "As a man thinks so is he." So yes, we can only control our mind. Like my friend who decided to ask about Xeno, learn and start investing, his testimony is clear that he has experienced growth.

So let us build our financial confidence by reseting, by dealing with the root not the fruit. Let God guide you and I as we do our self reflection.

Thursday 2 May 2024

70% Ugandans survive on borrowing - FSD Uganda Study

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

We all read that statement that was screaming on the Daily Monitor news paper on 15 April, 2024. The report is based on a study by FSD Uganda and it said, "Seven out of every 10 Ugandans were operating a personal budget deficit(needing more money to than they are earning to cover their personal budget" Now, 70% is huge. What are the 30% doing that the 70% aren’t doing? The report continued to say, "More Ugandans are relying on their family and friends, personal savings, and borrowing to manage their budget deficits than was the case in 2018."

What’s notable in this, is that Ugandan’s have personal savings and compared to 2018, 60% of Ugandans are now saving which is a good thing. In their 2017 SDG report, Afro Barometer said, "Ugandan’s saving rate was at 12% compared to Kenya(23%), Rwanda (18%) and Tanzania (13%)" Generally we have been doing badly. I need to find out what our stand is currently but an improvement of 60% should be applauded. 

But saving is not enough, it is the first step. Even if savings is up. Finscope report says, "Most Ugandans are not managing their budgets well." and failure to manage picks into things like extensive borrowing to meet a budgeting deficit as stated above. If you are lucky to have personal savings that is good, then the only worry is that you are probably eating into your wealth building tool. Savings should be categorised, emergency savings and investment savings. 

You can make and save money, but if you are having more months than money, the problem is not the income. It's your money management. We have to develop high income skills levels to enable us manage this money resource well. 

Paul Busharizi once wrote an article titled, "Perpetuating the poverty among the elite" and said, "There is the Urban legend of the manager who cannot make his salary stretch to the end of the month, while his driver who earns a fraction of his salary, not only gets to the end of the month, but has enough left over to invest in his growing empire of mizigo rentals." He further said, "The difference between the two men is that the boss is focused on consumption lifestyle while the driver is focused on investing. And that is the crux of the matter. There are only two ways to spend your money, you either “eat” it or invest it."

There is no doubt economic times are hard but we have to be smarter. Money management is a skill that we all must harness. Even if we are doing fairly well, we must keep learning to avoid slipping back. So manage whatever little  money you have well. It's a much needed skill. We are all victims of poor financial management but we can be better.

So these are some of the things the 30% are doing:

  1. They have financial goals.
  2. They have a financial plan.
  3. They have a budget.
  4. They track their expenses
  5. They live below and within their means
  6. They are investing in appreciating assets like Bonds, Treasury Bills, Fixed Deposits, Unit Trusts that offer at least 10%. They know there is a limit to how much they can cut their expenses, so they focus on increasing their means.
  7. They are involved in producing goods and services. If they aren’t directly producing, they own shares of companies that are producing goods and services.

So once again, I remind us, let us build that emergency fund. UGX 1,000,000 is a good target to begin with. In case of a challenge, you will have that as your first rescue point. It is your fire extinguisher, you need it badly, I badly need it. 

Don’t ignore the power of putting 10,000 UGX aside, if you do it for 7 days, that’s already 70,000 in your emergency pot. XENO CIS allows you to save as low as 10,000 UGX, you can dial *165*5*7# my referral code is XENO84105. 

For more information about XENO click this link.

Thursday 11 April 2024

With almost 11%, This Can Be An Alternative Source of Income

Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

I read something profound this week on social media. Livingstone Mukasa said, "I explained to him that 10% interest is better than 100% consumption any day, anytime."

Livingstone was talking about how, "What percentage of your money do you put to work for you?" He talked about a lady who has worked for the bank for 15 years and all she has is NSSF which will give an interest when it’s declared this year. He also talked about another person who earns 6m UGX but takes home 1.8m saying, "His Mercedes Benz C Class is about to be confiscated by the Moneylender." and that "He is now looking for a pastor to pray for him. He thinks he is cursed!"  - He isn’t cursed, he just has a money management problem not an income problem.

The statement 10% interest is better than 100% consumption was towards the man who earns 6m and "thinks one should save when they get a lump sum." - We can never have all the money, wealth is gathered little by little (Proverbs 13:11)

A friend once said, "I am paying the price of regret. It is a huge price. I remember having lots of money in my bank account. Had I at least put it in the Unit Trust, I would have enough to carry me through this rough patch."

You see when you are in a desert, the camel that’s used as your transport must be fed. If it’s not fed. It dies and so do you.  I learnt from Reno Omokri "that the camel is your future." He then stated "As you make money today, don't eat all. Feed the future. Invest money for tomorrow, or you may die before your time."

Remember, Proverbs 21:20 "The wise have wealth and luxury but fools spend whatever they get." Verse 17 of the same chapter says, "Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."

So Why Unit Trusts?

  • Unit trusts give you a passive income
  • Unit trusts offer you risk-sensitive options
  • Unit trusts give you liquidity 
  • Unit Trusts are structured for security
  • Perks of Scale  
  • Professionally Managed
  • Tax-exempt Income
  • Flexibility 

Source (My Xeno)

I will share with you performances of two CISs/Unit Trust Funds (XENO and UAP)

XENO offers goal based investing. You can dial *165*5*7# and start investing with as low as 10,000 UGX. Through the USSD, you will just sign up because they have an MOU with MTN and this makes it easy, you don’t need an ID or Passport Photo but via web myxeno.com or APP, you need to provide those other details and within 2 days, your account will be active.

XENO invests your money in four asset classes (Bonds, Money Market Funds, Regional and Domestic Equities) as show in the picture above. The last two are volatile and because many are risk averse, a little percentage of your money is put in that asset class.  Annnual management fee is 1.5% p.a for Money Market Fund and 2.0% p.a for the Bonds.

UAP saves money in Bonds, Commercial papers, Fixed Deposits, Offshore investments, Local Stock Market. They have three funds, Money Market Fund(MMF), Umbrella Trust Fund and Balanced Fund. For the Umbrella Fund, their main objective is capital preservation and generation of consistent income with low to medium investment risk. You need a minimum of 100,000 UGX. Annual management fee is 2% p.a.

XENO Performance in the last 6 months:

  1. Feb, 29, 2024 ( MMF - 11.16% Bond - 14.79%)
  2. Jan, 31, 2024 (MMF - 11.70% Bond - 15.20%)
  3. Dec, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.51% Bond - 15.62%)
  4. Nov, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.76% Bond - 15.70%)
  5. Oct, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.93% Bond - 15.62%)
  6. Sept, 31, 2023 (MMF - 11.92% Bond - 15.33%)



  • On average, some one gets around 13% from XENO with some exposure to the volatility in regional & domestic equities.

UAP Performance in the last 6 months:

  1. Feb, 29, 2024 - 11.02%
  2. Jan, 31, 2024 - 11.21% 
  3. Dec, 31, 2023 - 11.49%
  4. Nov, 31, 2023 - 11.02%
  5. Oct, 31, 2023 - 11.24%
  6. Sept, 31, 2023 - 11.07%

  • On average someone gets 11%

There are other Funds like ICEA, Sanlam, etc. that are doing the same. These are alternative investment vehicles. 

This is low risk, so guys who are heavily involved in business will say, "ah! That money is too little for me." They are indeed right. Where the risk is high the profits are also quite high and business is one of those areas. You might be the type who says, "I can’t do business for now", but you want to participate in owning shares or lending to government - this can be a good alternative. The key is to invest for long term to benefit from compound interest.

In conclusion, in your investment portfolio, consider having Unit Trust Funds, rather than having money in your bank account where you earn 2% interest against inflation of 3.4%, you are basically earning 1.4% that means your money has lost value and you have no purchasing power. What worsens the situation is our depreciating shilling against the dollar. Keith Kalyegira once said, "When money is seated in the bank, it shows that you are not thinking." So put your money to work, that shows you are thinking. You are the commander in chief and your monies are the soldiers, you can have different battalions - battalion 1 (emergency fund - defence), battalion 2 (investments - freedom fighters).

Sunday 24 March 2024

Why is a school child taught about bank accounts but not about investment accounts? asked Alex Kakande

By Arthur Moses Opio

An apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We are the by product of our upbringing and environment. We can't go beyond what we have been exposed to. If I grew with parent's talking about money in negative ways or just always complaining about how scarce or hard it is to make or even grow - that's what I will carry with all my life.

Alex Kakande recently wrote an article about a dream he has, he started by saying, 

"I have a dream that someday Uganda will transition to an investment-centric society. For an extended period, this nation has thrived on the spirit of entrepreneurship, which is commendable."

"My dream is to witness the growth of our capital markets, not through the participation of a mere 100,000 -200,000 individuals currently in the Capital Market Space, but to grow it to 1 Million people, 5 Million plus Ugandans.

Alex further said, 

"We need to initiate a paradigm shift towards investment. If an individual aspires to open a salon, they could alternatively purchase a stake in a thriving salon instead of starting from scratch. We need to embrace an investment mindset that appreciates the merits of shared risk, injecting capital into existing businesses, and discussing annual returns."

I responded to his article in the comment section and said, "Alex you have spoken well." You have said and I quote, 

"It is sad to see people well-versed in betting, yet ignorant about buying shares of companies like MTN, Airtel, Stanbic, Bank of Baroda, Dfcu, and others. If people can risk their money in betting, why not in purchasing shares?"

The question then is what is the root cause of all this misalignment? 

Why can't people have a change of mindset?

We all have a financial blueprint and our environments have a strong bearing on how we think and interact with money. From childhood, we have been told money is evil, rich people are evil, you can't have a lot of money and be good, etc. In school we were never taught about money except about cost or buying staff but nothing to do with investment. So we don't have that in our blueprint. Someone earns money and they first thing they think of is spending, they are hooked by the "Shiny Object Syndrome." Some have the Diderot effect, it's something that disturbs them. Some want to play the status game and not the wealth game. Some keep complaining, that life just happens while a wealthy person thinks totally different and says, "I create my life."

In schools, A is still for Apple and not for Asset, B is still for Ball and not for Bonds, C is still for Car and not Capital or Compound Interest, D is still for Dog and not Dividends. With such a curriculum, what do we expect?

All this stuff is by design, our poverty is by design, our mindsets are for consumption and that's by design. The poorer the person, the easier they can be controlled, someone still says, "I want my money where I can see it." That's by design. Our parents were limited to such education, the media can't give the knowledge on Unit Trusts and Bonds the airplay they deserve. Banks that have the money for adverts continue to dominate the airspace, they are always in our faces and what comes to mind first is to have a bank account and not an investment account. 

What you and many others are doing is going to awaken everyone. 

The conversation on money is best taught by the parent at the dinner table or on the way to school because the parent will have the vested interest but parents need financial education - this financial education is key to our problems.

If the boda boda man or builder can even grasp a little bit of this, we can continue to see great take up of these products. It has to be deliberate and intentional but the miseducation is by design, unit trusts continue to take the banks customers and it's now a massive issue.

I trust as we all contribute to the space, we will continue to grow the numbers and ensure this dream is achieved. Every parent reading this article should not only have a bank account but also an investment account for themselves and their children. Monkey see monkey do, we can't preach what we don't practice.

Jaspreet Singh once said, "We can all be investors by owning a share of a company not necessarily starting one." So this speaks to what you are alluding to.