Cinnamon Clubs goes in a partnership agreement with UAP Old Mutual

Cinnamon Clubs, a Ugandan Information Technology solutions provider offering premier Investment Club Management software has signed a partnership agreement with UAP Old Mutual. The software that automates bookkeeping and investment efficiencies will provide comprehensive loan insurance cover and financial services to investment clubs, savings groups and SACCOS.

An investment club is a group of people that pool their resources on a monthly basis as a long term investment. Majority of these clubs are informal in nature and find it hard to access services like group insurance and investments.

We therefore saw a need to bridge that gap between the formal corporate insurers, fund managers and investment clubs, which makes the partnership with Old Mutual rather significant and beneficial to investment and savings groups.

In an exclusive interview, Dickson Mushabe, CEO and co-founder of Cinnamon Clubs said: “We are excited about this partnership that will solve a big problem for these investment and saving clubs. Investment Clubs are formed on the basis of trust, unfortunately some of these clubs have crumbled, while others have made loses as a result of broken trust. This breakdown in trust is a result of some members failing to repay their loans in addition to inconsistencies in the monthly contributions

There are many circumstances under which one may fail to repay their loans e.g. the accidental death of members, critical illness that may lead to inability to engage in income generating activities, retrenchment or involuntary loss of employment and the risk associated with the non-renewal of contracts.

With the introduction of the Cinnamon Insure product underwritten by UAP Old Mutual, clubs will no longer run the risk of losing their money which will be insured providing guaranteed reimbursement in the case of failure to pay. From an investment perspective the partnership will enable investment clubs to make more money through managed investment by UAP Old Mutual Unit Trust.

This is a good partnership that will definitely offer many investment options to Investment Clubs. It will bring an alternative source of income to the groups whose money is sometimes lying around doing nothing”: said Daniel Opiyo, Head of Agency, UAP Financial Services.

About UAP Old Mutual Insurance Uganda Ltd

UAP Old Mutual Group is a subsidiary of Old Mutual Limited (OML) based in South Africa and operates in 13 markets across the region including Uganda.

We are an integrated financial services provider in East Africa, leveraging off the strength of our capabilities in local expertise and the global group. We’re glad to partner with individuals and corporates to provide financial solutions including, General Insurance, Life Insurance, Asset Management, Investment and Banking.

Contact us: 0800132700  0707700903 UAPOldMutualUg   www.uapoldmutual.com ug.uap-group.com

Dickson Mushabe, CEO and founder Cinnamon Clubs, pitching Startupbootcamp AfriTech 2019 in Uganda

Cinnamon Clubs selected for Cape Town-based accelerator

Cinnamon Clubs has been selected to face off with 19 other startups in the Startup bootcamp AfriTech 2019 Final Selection Days. Cinnamon Clubs is a software that helps investment clubs to track and manage their records.

To participate in this round of the prestigious accelerator, the startup beat over 2000 startups from different countries that had applied.

Of the twenty startups that were selected from across Africa, only Cinnamon Clubs came from Uganda. South Africa sent seven, Nigerian (six), Kenya (two) and the rest are from Togo, Senegal, Morocco and Zimbabwe (each of these sent one).

Startupbootcamp AfriTech, which is based in Cape Town, is an accelerator focused on high-growth startups in blockchain, connected devices, payment solutions, capital markets and asset management, integrated supply chain, e-commerce, retailtech, insurtech, alternative financing, identity management, digital connectivity, data and behavioral analytics and enabling technologies.

“I really want to thank God for this opportunity and for making to the top 20.This is a huge step in the right direction for Cinnamon Clubs to go global and be accelerated by one of the best in the world. Special thanks to the entire Cinnamon team for the tireless work to have this platform ready. I am praying for the best as we go to present in Cape Town” Dickson Mushabe, the founder and CEO of Cinnamon Clubs said

Cinnamon Clubs is currently operating in Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

On July 10-11, the 20 startups will be in Cape Town for the Startupbootcamp AfriTech 2019 Final Selection Days.

Officials say that during this period the startups will also meet over 2000 mentors and participate in “an intensive week allowing for networking, training, as well as pitching.”

The mentors, who range from corp-orates, ecosystem partners and VC Funds will be from across the continent, the US, and EU among others.

After the competition, the ten best startups will then participate in the Cape Town-based accelerator program, which kicks off in August and culminates in a demo day in November.

Over the three-month period, the selected startups will have the opportunity to scale at speed and seal pilots and proofs-of-concept with the corporate sponsors of the program and others.

Officials told media that they received a number of incredible projects and they proved that there’s more talent in Africa.

“The startups that applied in 2019 were exceptionally impressive and are significantly later-stage, showing more market traction than applicants from previous years. What’s more, the talent originating out of different regions in the African continent is astounding,” said Motlhabane Koloi, legal and scouting manager for Startupbootcamp AfriTech, according to Disrupt Africa.

Zachariah George, Startupbootcamp AfriTech’s co-founder and chief investment officer, said several of the 2017 and 2018 alumni startup had gone on to establish strategic commercial partnerships with leading institutions both within Africa and globally, helping them significantly in raising capital.

“There are high expectations for the applicants of the 2019 cohort, and if the caliber of the startups at this stage is any indication, this year’s program promises to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem,” he said.

Dickson Mushabe (L) and Wilson Cristancho at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Cinnamon Clubs names IT guru Wilson Cristancho to its board

Ugandan-grown software company Cinnamon Clubs has appointed seasoned IT professional Wilson Cristancho to its board as an advisor.

Cristancho, who has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, having worked with global companies like Assurant and Ericsson, brings his expertise to a startup that is already operational in three African countries, namely: Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia.

Developed by Hostalilte, Cinnamon Clubs helps investment clubs to manage a number of things, including record keeping, collections, and managing members.

According to Dickson Mushabe, the chief executive officer of the company, he met Wilson Cristancho at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which ran from Feb. 25-28.

Currently working with Network Media Communications as a chief technology officer, the IT guru is expected to enormously contribute the Cinnamon’s growth plans.

Before joining Network Media Communications, Cristancho worked with Resources Global Professionals, a business and IT consulting firm headquartered in California.

A holder of a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s in Computer and Information Sciences from Barry University, he also worked with Ericsson as a solutions manager, heading a region that covers Brazil, Mexico, New York, Dallas, Latin America and Boca Raton. This was between February 2001 and December 2004, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Wilson Cristancho also obtained a certificate in telecommunications management from Miami University and another in management information systems from Miami Dade College.

Joining Cinnamons Club

Dickson Mushabe says he met Cristancho at the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As they interacted during the social hour, Mushabe says, Wilson Cristancho was surprised by his dress code: He was wearing a suit.

So Cristancho asked him (Mushabe) why he was dressed in a suit at a gathering full of nerds that are known for slobby dressing.

“Why are you dressed like that?” Cristancho wondered, according to Mushabe. “Whom are you trying to impress? I just checked your social media pages and the Dickson I see is a freestyle Headmaster in either a Cinnamon or Hostalite t-shirt. Just be yourself, people will trust that simple guy.”

It’s this kind of casual conversation that drew Mushabe to Cristancho, who is also a founding member and sits on the Board of Directors at American Association of Colombian Engineers and Architects (AACE), and they ended up deciding to work together.

Investment clubs: Your key to financial freedom

An illustration of members of an investment club during a session. Investment clubs are an attractive source of funding. Illustration by Danny Barongo.  Investment clubs involve members who pool resources together before making informed investments. Eronie Kamukama explores how this investment avenue can help people grow their savings.

By Eronie Kamukama

Alfred Habaasa is anything but your usual Ugandan youth. In his mid-20s, the tax advisor at Ernst and Young Uganda is a leader of Group Connect Prudent (GCP), an investment club operating in Kampala. Together with 28 other young people under GCP, Mr Habaasa is investing his money in low risk securities with hope of getting a return after his money has appreciated.

But Mr Habaasa did not wake up one morning and start investing in securities. His story dates way back in 2012 when he was a university student. He wanted to keep in touch with his alumni from St Mary’s College Rushoroza Kabale, so he mobilised those in different universities and formed a group that would hang out once in a while.
It worked but six months down the road, the social group’s initial motivation slowly faded as people got too busy with their lives. The group had to find great cause to meet.
“We realised we needed another cause that would bind us and our resolution was to focus on financial growth,” Mr Habaasa says.

Investment club idea
Mr Habaasa says they started discussing money and eventually the social group settled for an investment club.
“We thought those into entrepreneurship needed money for investment and those with small jobs could top up on their salaries,” Mr Habaasa narrates.
In 2013, GCP was registered at Uganda Registration Services Bureau as a group limited by guarantee to prepare for any opportunities.
“The idea was that we should be ready for any opportunities if anyone wants to partner with us,” Mr Habaasa explains. They formulated a constitution, opened an investment club bank account in dfcu bank and started looking into increasing the group’s capital base.
The club members started saving between Shs10,000 and Shs100,000 solely for investment. Along the way, inconsistencies in scheduled payments cropped up. The club also got uncomfortable with stacking money on an account and waiting for an interest from the bank.

New beginnings
Strategy changed in 2015. “We planned for the money and we invested Shs3m in treasury bills. One member suggested we needed services of a fund manager and right now, we are investing in the money market,” Mr Habaasa says.
Stanbic bank as GCP’s fund managers was now in charge if investing the club’s Shs30m in low risk securities. GCP is currently doing long term investment but will reconsider lending their money once risk can be well-managed. However, Mr Habaasa wants more. Investment in the stock market is ideal for the club because money becomes more liquid.
“We want to develop a unit market so instead of buying and selling shares on the market, you can buy your units and sell them. If the price of the share is high, you can sell your units at a higher price and get a profit,” he explains.
GCP is one of the many investment clubs that bubbled a few years ago in Uganda.

An investment club is a small group of individual investors who come together to learn and share investment experiences and work together to become more successful investors by pooling their resources so as to make informed investments, according to Mr Peter Mulira, from Investment Promotion Division at Uganda Investment Authority.
A 2014 preliminary study by Ms Pascal Al Amin Ojijo, “Investment Clubs in Uganda- Preliminary Study on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats”, indicates Uganda has experienced growth in the investment club aspect with most clubs running as limited companies, cooperatives and unregistered groups to lift people to financial freedom through saving, investment and internal borrowing.
Dfcu bank’s head of investment clubs, Mr Joseph Kasaija, says the growing culture cuts across all demographics as more Ugandans realise that they hardly have any savings besides those in National Social Security Fund. The response to join the clubs is even better among corporates because they earn a direct income every month.
Many clubs have, for years, operated informally, triggering a special interest among banks such as dfcu, Centenary, Orient and Bank of Africa. Some banks have more than 1,500 clubs registered. The Investment Clubs Association of Uganda is host to over 170 clubs.
Mr Kasaija says banks are interested in investment clubs to promote savings for investment and not consumption.
“We look at it in terms of creating intergenerational wealth, we want investments that will run for years,” he says, adding that “statistics are showing that Ugandans have a poor saving culture. If you look at the World Bank report that has just come out, it shows that Ugandans save less than 2 per cent of their income as compared to East Africa where countries like Kenya are above 18 per cent.” Any person who is of age and especially those that are earning an income should join an investment club.
It is usually echoed if you want to go far, it is better to go together than singly. Mr Kasaija says investments clubs are key because it is easier for people to raise capital that can transform the group in the shortest time possible.

Opportunities
Mr Mulira, on the other hand, says in the wake of poor distribution of wealth in Africa where the income classes greatly differ in levels, investment groups help to give equal opportunities to financial freedom through collective schemes. The creation of rural investment clubs can offer communities a safe and supportive environment to learn the basics of investing and financial literacy. It also enables them to invest in agro-supplies and products as a community and take advantage of economies of scale.
Mr Mulira further maintains that African startups are widely supported by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), grants, donors, or foreign individual investors who do not necessarily understand the African culture and originality which directly hinders innovation through tough conditions assigned to accessing funding.
“Investment clubs can help solve some of the local problems by investing in domestic startups, which present attractive investment prospects. Some opportunities are presented through social enterprises, which not only can help impact and build a better Uganda but also give the clubs a return on investment at the same time,” Mr Mulira explains.
The high interest rates which directly contribute to high costs of doing business make investment clubs an attractive alternative source of funding.

Mr Mulira believes investment clubs can play a role in innovations through private equity funding to startups. This represents capital which brings in cash and builds the Small and Medium Enterprise capacity by accelerating the pace for growth of successful and sustainable enterprises.
The clubs can offer short, medium to long-term financing to SMEs with growth potential and seek high returns on their capital and exit after achieving their required returns.
Commenting on what to consider when joining an investment club, Mr Kasaija provides simple advice.
“I rarely encourage someone to join existing investment clubs unless that person has something unique that connects them to the group because it is a socially based group and you need to fit in,” Mr Kasaija says.

Chance for financial freedom?
To an extent, they are but experts say the old story of how Ugandans still hang on to the same old habit of consuming all their money and recommend sensitisation that will drive up savings before consumption culture. Existing investment clubs fail to ably diversify their investments, still lack a consistent saving culture, lack trust besides being financially illiterate.
However, Mr Ojijo says investment clubs should have clear financial goals that are understood by all members and to diversify their investment vehicles in relation to the club’s risk strategy.
On regular investment, he says: “Clubs should build up their capital first before beginning their investments. Once you begin the investment process, don’t stop. Try to avoid holding your contributions for more than three months before investing in opportunities.”

Investment Clubs: The Alternative Funding Source For SMES

An investment club is a group of less than 100 people who pool their money to invest in ventures they deem profitable. Usually, investment clubs are organized as partnerships and, after the members study different investments, the group decides to buy or sell based on a majority vote of the members.  Investment clubs a great networking opportunities, which provide members a platform to learn more about markets, running a business etc. The club meetings and working with people who have similar interests fosters the development of group relationships and member’s personal and social skills.

With the unequal distribution of wealth and income in Africa, investment groups are increasingly providing equal opportunities to financial freedom through collective schemes. The creation of rural investment clubs can offer communities a safe and supportive environment to learn the basics of investing and financial literacy. It also enables them to invest in agro supplies and products as a community and take advantage of economies of scale brought about by bulk buying.

Ugandans are very entrepreneurial people. Last year (2015), Uganda was named as the most entrepreneurial country in the world in a report by B2B Marketplace Approved Index. This was the second time running! In 2003, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, sponsored by the World Bank, published a study that ranked Uganda the most entrepreneurial country in the world. However their startups find it quite difficult to take off and be sustainable due to the high cost of capital which in turn leads to high cost of doing business. Investment clubs therefore provide an alternative and cheap source of domestic funding for projects compared to commercial banks and other sources of finance. It is important to note that some investment opportunities are presented in the form of social enterprises, which not only help to impact and build a better Uganda but also give the clubs a good return on investment at the same time.

Considering the high cost of capital, it’s imperative to explore alternative sources of finance. Although private equity is a relatively new investment financial model in East Africa (Uganda emerging as the second most active country after Kenya), it presents a lease of life to the SME sector. The investment clubs can be a good source of investment funds to established SMEs that want to expand through capitalization. The clubs can offer short, medium to long term financing to SMEs with growth potential, and seek high returns on their capital then exit after achieving their required return. Most of the investment clubs would not only provide capital but would also act as a partner to provide strategic and operational support due to their diverse background.

Investment clubs can bring in customers using their vast network and contacts, assist in advising on a management framework which can improve marketing and human resource management, improve new product development and provide technology support which is generally sorely missing in any SME due to inaccessibility.

The Investment Club Association of Uganda (ICAU) is one such club that meets to discuss challenges, opportunities and share any investment prospect which encourages cooperation amongst members to invest in sound and meaningful investments that directly contribute to employment. There is no minimum cap on investment and SMEs can get as low as $10,000 for their business unlike most private equity and  venture capital firms which have a 1 million dollar minimum cap for investment.

It is important for SMEs to be prepared to give up part of their shareholdings in the company and present a technological, creative and competitive advantage to the investment clubs with a strong financial record to support their pitch. The SMEs should have a trained and knowledgeable team to run the business with defined targets and should operate in a growing sector.

Investment clubs are a sociable way to do your investing, they are a great way to brainstorm ideas and share knowledge, and they can also be good for your wallet. However,  as with any enterprise that mixes friends and money,  it’s important that everyone understands the ground rules before you start. That means making sure members are in it for the same reason, that they agree on the investing strategy and objectives, that there are no personality clashes and that you have a competent treasurer to manage the accounts and produce statements.

If you get these elements right, your club has every chance of thriving as a unit.

Peter Mulira Jr

pmulira@ugandainvest.go.ug

Hostalite Signs MoU with Investment Club Association of Uganda to Provide club Management Software

Starting an Investment club is unfortunately not as easy as simply having a vision. Founding members face several obstacles in their bid to run and produce well-maintained club records.

East Africa’s leading web hosting and development company, Hostalite LTD on 25 August 2017 signed an MOU with the Investment Clubs Association of Uganda (ICAU). The event was held at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development offices in Kampala.

Cinnamon Clubs Software

Cinnamon Clubs is a premier investment club management software designed and developed by Hostalite Ltd.

The software is an easy to use software package that does not require advanced skills in information technology. At UGX 700 per member per month for a club of 20 members, Club officials can very easily register their clubs and add club members to the platform. Club members are able to interact with the system and access their individual records at any time.

According to Dickson Mushabe, Regional Manager E.A Hostalite Ltd, The club software will offer the ICAU membership wide ranging solutions for their clubs.

“The system is able to capture member contributions in accordance with specific club rules on regular payments and invoicing. Penalties on defaults can also be set up in the system and automatically deducted” he adds.

For clubs that use loan products, the club can initiate loan applications, process guarantees and keep track of repayments. Clubs whose members are spread out in different geographical locations, the Cinnamon clubs system has the advantage of being available online and can therefore be accessed globally.

“With Cinnamon clubs software, Hostalite, delivers on our commitment to listen to our clients’ needs and deliver valuable and practical solutions” notes Mushabe

Speaking after the signing, The Chairman ICAU, Mr. Stephen Luyonjo said that this was a very good strategic partnership which will enable the clubs manage their activities with ease

ICAU was founded by several investment clubs in Uganda to mobilize and support investment clubs to grow into high return investment vehicles for members. It is also supported by the Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy (CICS) program under Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The umbrella organization comprises over 2400 members in their respective investment clubs.

Challenges

In order for investment clubs to run well and deliver on the objectives of their membership, they need to have well-kept records.

Investment club officials face several obstacles in their bid to produce well-maintained club records. Most elected officials offer their services on a voluntary basis taking time out of the busy schedules of the rest of their responsibilities. Many are not trained accountants or financial management professionals.

In addition, some investment clubs have members who do not all reside in the same geographical locations. This poses challenges of communication and timely processing of financial statements of contributions, loan applications and loan repayment records.

Using investment clubs to raise money

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

She had an idea of what she wanted to do but didn’t know how to execute it. Although analysts and successful entrepreneurs largely agree that what matters most is the original concept of what you want to do and not the money you require to execute it, Ms Halima Mubiru had passed the initial phase and now only wanted a financial boost to start living her dream.

She couldn’t go to the bank for a loan because she didn’t have the collateral that the bank would need to approve her loan given the nature of her business—packaging and adding value to all kind of fruits.

Coupled with short repayment period and the high interests rates charges, Ms Mubiru for a minute thought her idea may well just remain “perfect” on paper and in reality it would never take off.
But, it was not long before she got a wind of investment clubs. Together with the like-minds, they formed a group of five people with whom they pooled resources every week to finance projects.
Of the five projects that were proposed, hers stood out because it was carefully thought out right from the beginning. What happened is that the team only refined her idea further and sunk in their capital.

Now all the supermarkets in town have their products—value added juices. And although they are yet to make super profits, life seems good. Meanwhile Mr Charles Kinoni, a baker is struggling to have his bakery on both footings. He is faced with the same challenges Ms Mubiru experienced about two-years ago—capital.

But the difference is that, unlike Ms Halima, Mr Kinoni has no idea how to raise capital to keep his bakery afloat. These two cases of Mubiru and Kinoni, are like the forces of good and evil. Whereas Ms Mubiru manages to sneak through, Charles seems stagnated. Eventually, like many others, he will wind up the business and move on as the vicious circle propelled by lack of ideas to raise capital without breaking a bank continues.

Speaking in an interview with experts on management of investment clubs, it was pretty clear that such initiatives are far better ways of raising money than earlier thought. “An investment club is supposed to help members put money together and fund their favourite investment,” Ms Barbara Asiimwe, the DFCU manager in charge of SMEs and women in business told Prosper last week when inquiring about the inroad investment club it launched about three years ago is fairing.

She said it is not only a good alternative for pooling together capital but far better than an arrangement where members are given money in rotation weekly. She bases her claims on grounds that investment clubs are professionally managed as opposed to weekly rotation schemes, where no binding rules apply.

“Investment clubs are sustainable because there are orders to follow. And as a bank we only help members kick start their investment,” said SMEs manager who also manages the Dfcu investment clubs.
She however said that the successes of the clubs largely depend on the commitment of the members. The bank only provides members with bank accounts and the products.

And after successfully experimenting with the ladies, the model has been replicated to accommodate men. She said: “Now we have investment clubs not only for women but men too, including for corporate and friends.”

Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has also started an initiative where it nurtures the saving and investment culture among university students across the country. So far, they are engaging eight universities.

In an interview with Daily Monitor, CMA Public Education Assistant, Daniel Kahaya said: “What we do is give students seed capital and they invest it in several investments of their interests.”
Since 2007, it has been doing just that with an intention to build what Mr Kahaya describes as investment atmosphere. To date, about 12 groups from several universities have been formed. To keep it competitive, CMA crowns it with an award for the best group.

Investment club
An investment club is a group of individuals who meet on a regular basis for the purpose of pooling money and retail investing. The invested sums can be between Shs100,000 to Shs250,000 per month. For some types of club pooling, money is not mandatory. Investment clubs provide members a means to learn about markets, while meeting and working with people who have similar interests.

The world’s first investment club was established in Texas in 1898, back in the days of the Wild West when few investments could be considered safe. Investment clubs were seen as an ideal way of spreading the risk away from just cattle.

Going by the 3 million bank accounts out of a population of more than 30 million, confirms that the biggest part of the population does not have a formal saving structure. In an earlier interview with Mr Charles Ocici, the Enterprise Uganda executive director, it was apparent that it is not always easy for individuals to save for future investment but if they are pooled in a group it becomes easier to accumulate some good money for future investments.

According to Mr Ocici, whereas individual savings yield less potential (capital), group investments provide an opportunity to pool good capital that can be used for decisive investment.
He said such groups normally end up developing stronger ties, which can as well assist members in times of hardship. Other benefits include learning from each other and spreading out losses that otherwise an individual would have incurred alone.

In such settings investment decisions are reached after consultations and due considerations, which certainly guarantee the success of such a venture. On the other hand, Mr Ocici also warns that investment clubs should prepare for future eventualities arguing that as time goes by the bear realities set in and in the absence of clear procedures on dispute settlement and sharing successes, the club could badly disintegrate.

He says: “You must always have provision for those who will say no and want to exit or in the event that your earlier cohesion gives way and you can no longer hold together, there must be an agreed way to deal with such realities.”

Mr Ocici says investment clubs must consider the likelihood of things getting challenging before they get easier. He adds that procedures must be laid down especially regarding the entry of new members.

Technical advice on how to manage business and book keeping, networking and to a large extent marketing opportunities will be arranged for them among other benefits.
Under investment clubs individuals are united to share similar investment or financial aspirations. Such individuals pool their resources to attain set investment goals.

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com