Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ministry Updates - July 2013...

Challenges in Rwanda continued in July. But we continued elbowing through them one at a time for the whole month. Like the sun shedding light through thick clouds, however, God continued extending His grace to us even under gloomy circumstances. All we need is more trust in Him, including His time, and more endurance in this race of faith.

The following were the highlights:

1. UOB management had to dismiss 19 staff to overcome economic difficulties. Individually I feel terribly sorry, but as the steward of the organization, we had to make a painful decision. May God show them mercy and grace in their transition.

2. Our field activities remained sluggish with declining client number and loan portfolio balance. This in turn lowered our revenues to the level that is not sufficient to cover the operating expenses. We are hopeful, however, that we will see some rays of hope in August, the usually more active month of the year. Please pray with us for God's intervention in this time of challenges.

3. mHose mVisa rollout continued smoothly. We have now over 4,000 clients signed up for mHose mVisa and 45 agents serving our clients. I signed up and purchased the electricity and air time, and sent some money to friends. It is working great! One Visa senior officer did open mHose at one of branches and was extremely pleased with the 14 minute service time from the inquiry to the opening of the account and to the activation of mHose. We also continued distributing UOB Grace cards, not totaling 26,000. We praise the Lord for His grace upon this project in July. 

Group photo after UOB Day
All staff praising the Lord
4. UOB held the UOB Day in July. We gathered again to honor our Lord Jesus as our CEO and worshiped Him. We also reviewed the half year performance. The highlight was to honor our clients who were selected for their transformation. The honored clients included one recipient for Economic T-Award (T stands for Transformation), two for Social T-Awards and one for Holistic T-Award. The EBUs that served them were also honored for their exemplary work.

5. We geared up for the T24 R12 model bank migration for our core banking system, which is scheduled for September. We continued cleaning up the data while our staff started receiving training on the new model bank version. When this migration is successfully completed, we will be able to serve our clients faster and more conveniently with more features.

Bin Kim, Sungeun Choi, Pearl Kwon
6. UOB continued being blessed with "borrowed talents." Sungeun Choi went back to Korea after her internship with us for one year. She came through Merry Year International in Korea. But Bin Kim came to succeed Sungeun. He will help us in agricultural finance and branch support team while continuing to play the bridge role between MYI and UOB. Also, God has sent us Pearl Kwon as summer intern, who has just completed one year of study at London School of Economicis. She will help us in marketing for two months before she continues her master's degree study in Berlin. Also, there are other borrowed talents, such as Ashley from Chicago, Vannesa from S. California and Jason from S. California. They are extremely valuable "borrowed talents" who bridge the talent gap. We are deeply grateful for them.

7. UOB continued receiving several groups of visitors all from the U.S. but through different organizations, including Opportunity International, Hope International and World Relief. Noteworthy was a group of Wells Fargo bankers who came with the CEO of World Relief. It was a new experience of talking the banker's jargons without too much worry. May the Lord touch their hearts to dedicate more resources for His Kingdom.
SBS in July

8. Jeffrey served the financial services community at large by serving the BDF board and RSwitch board in July. He chairs the BDF board and serves RSwitch board as Vice Chair. He also gave a lecture about microfinance and inclusive finance to a group of people from S. Korea. This group of people included the Korean Ambassador to Rwanda, KOICA Chief Representative, Deputy Representative, a few NGO staff and Saemaul Movement staff.

9. Habitat for Humanity (H4H) is an international NGO that provides support in building and improving houses in developing countries. H4H has established a MicroBuild Fund to facilitate this program and UOB will be participating in this program. For this purpose, H4H sent a housing finance specialist to UOB for the initial needs assessment and institutional capacity assessment. The assessment result was positive and we will move forward. Housing is one of UOB's holistic community development elements (W.A.H.E.H.E. standing for Water/Sanitation/Hygiene, Agriculture, Health, Education, Housing and Energy) and we intend to develop a home improvements loan program with H4H. May the Lord bless us with this resource and product.

Yaramba Nursery
Painting the Yaramba Nursery
10. Kristin's nursery project in Yaramba, Gicumbi is one step closer to the closure. Her recent visit was made when a short term mission team was conducting Vacation Bible Study sessions with the children in Yaramba. This blog post is coming soon. Kristin will hand over the project to a Korean missionary and the church during a dedication service to be held in August to bring the project to close.
Children in VBS

Happy Children
Children Playing Games
11. Jeffrey continued his ministries in Rwanda through the pulpit (St. Etienne and UOB) and the disciple-making (Shalom Bible Study) in addition to the works at UOB.

12. Prayer requests --- Please pray with us that:
  • God may extend His grace to our clients and the Rwandan economy to pick up the pace and turn around the challenging situation.
  • God may comfort and lead the staff who has been dismissed from UOB to the way He has been preparing for them.
  • God may help us continue to scale up the rollout of mHose and UOB Grace cards. The usage in volume and number of transactions is rapidly increasing.
  • God may help us on a joint marketing plan with mVisa to launch from August to September.
  • God may help us secure all resources we need for the work He has called us to do.
  • God may bless us with His divine wisdom and guidance in carrying out the T24 R12 model bank migration project.

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