An interesting and heart-rending story is told of how EBO came to be. In many African villages, burial activities bring together members of a community. They celebrate the life of the demised member, organize burial ceremonies and contribute towards costs. It is very common for villagers to form burial societies to support kin and kith. The Rutooma Village in Kashari County, where EBO was born, was no exception.
In the early 90s prior to the formation of EBO, such a burial society existed in the village of Rutooma, located in the Western part of Uganda. Regular contributions were made by the residents towards a burial fund that supported bereaved families. It worked well. One momentous day, an ailing resident of the village requested the burial society committee for financial assistance towards the costs of her medical treatment. She had suffered for long and was not endowed financially, like most of the Rutooma villagers, to meet such basic needs. The committee was dumbfounded and baffled by the request. This was unprecedented and surely outside the mandate of the fund. As much as they sympathised with Margret Kibandiko they were unable to process to her request. Dejected she was left to deal with her plight.
Sadly, Margaret Kibandiko passed on shortly thereafter, probably due to lack of access to medical treatment. Her death marked a significant turning point in Rutooma Village and ushered the formation of a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), with a broader mandate than that of a burial society. The pain of focusing on supporting bereaved families at the expense of helping the living, exemplified by Kibandiko’s situation, was too much to bear.
EBO, coined from the acronym “Ebirungi Birug’omutuutu”, which translates to Good things come from sweat, was thus established in 1995 as a Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCA) a peer-to-peer lending association or a group of individuals who save and borrow from the collective savings __ a successor to the VLSA.
In 2002, it was registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, CAP 112 as a co-operative society. An initial technical financial assistance, in the same year, by Uganda Cooperative Alliance supported EBO to institutionalize, substantially.
From its humble beginnings, EBO has grown to well recognized and revered institution in its area of operation. Its brand identity has recognition and wide acceptance that awaits to be exploited.
It is situated in Western Uganda about 30Km from Mbarara Town along Mbaraa – Ibanda Road. The SACCO currently has a membership of over 52,000 individual members, 3400 Farmer groups (with an average membership of 25 households each group) institutions and business organizations with 12 branches in the region. Its area of operation is Mbarara and the neighbouring districts of Ibanda, Kiruhura, Kamwengye, Sheema, Buhweju, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Kazo, Rwampara and Lyantonde. The SACCO’s main business is receiving member’s savings and advancing credit facilities to them. The major sources of the SACCO’s funding are internally generated funds from equity of 24.3%, 50.7% from savings and 25.0% external borrowings. From the initial starting meager capital of merely fifteen thousand (15,000=)UGX in 2001, the Sacco had been able to accumulate a loan fund of 31,638,218,097 UGX equivalent to 7,030,715 EURO contributing to total capital assets worth 35,476,889,308 UG X by the end of year 2021 .
The SACCO has currently mobilized more than shs 18.4 billion in savings, over shs 4.9 billion share capital, Reserves and retained earnings of Shs 4.1 billion. Its retained profit as at 31st December 2021 amounted to Shs 2,627,486,870=.
This transformation process into MDI for large Financial Cooperative ushers a new era for EBO following its second transformation into regulated Society by the Bank of Uganda. The main reason for transformation is complying with the new regulations that require all large Societies to be regulated by BOU. The second reason is a strategic one.Long before the regulatory requirement, EBO identified transformation as an important strategy for growth. The preparation of this transformation was preceded by extensive exercises that; Assessed the Operating Environment and conducted an Institutional Diagnostic Assessment.