Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ministry Updates - February 2012

Dear friends, family and fellow Kingdom workers,

February also kept us busy with many visitors. The following are the highlights of our ministry in February

1. UOB received several groups of visitors in February. First, we received 20 people from Canada who came through OI Canada. They held a leadership forum (Made in Rwanda) and visited our clients. Second, we received two OI UK staff who came to write a proposal for a funding. Third, we have received a delegation of 18 people from the U.S. who came through OI US for Insight Trip. There were several meetings and presentations along with their visits. It was encouraging to hear that they have been blessed and inspired by what God is doing through UOB. Jeffrey also received Goran Skytte, a Swedish journalist, Dr. Mija Kim, a nursing scholar. All meetings were informative and beneficial. On the other hand, Saangkeub Lee, an intern from Korea went back to Korea after his voluntary service for seven weeks. His contribution was impressive and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with him.

2. I chair the board of directors at BDF, Rwanda's leading credit guarantee agency. In February, we held an all-daystrategic meeting with BDF's senior leadership team. We established a series of frameworks that reflect "paradigm shifts" necessary for BDF to be effective in providing credit guarantee to facilitate provision of credits for SMEs and agricultural farmers. The meeting was constructive and fruitful.

3. All UOB business unit leaders signed their MoUs documenting their key performance goals and objectives for 2012. In Rwanda, there is a concept called, Imihigo that all government officials sign for the same purpose of establishing their goals and objectives. There seems to be a little side effect of Imihigo but UOB's MOUs have been very effective in achieving the targets.
4. I attended the Rwanda Monetary Policy meeting where the country's overall economy and monetary policies are shared. Rwanda registered a healthy 8.8% growth in real GDP with the inflation controlled at 8.3%. Particularly, Rwanda's inflation rate was exceptionally low compared to its neighboring countries that reported the inflation as high as 35% (Uganda). For 2012, Rwanda is projecting its real GDP growth at 7.6% and inflation at 7.5%. In many aspects, Rwanda's economy remains safe and sound.  

5. UOB senior leadership had the quarterly off-site prudential meeting with the BNR (Central Bank). The governor said that UOB is one of the best run banks in Rwanda. Also, UOB received a significantly upgraded rating on Opportunity International's Business Risk Review. We thank God for His guidance in stabilizing and strengthening UOB's operations.

6. UOB's loan portfolio bounced back to Rwf7.56 Billion from Rwf7.4 Billion, a month earlier, despite the slow seasonality. UOB's loans are outstanding with women at 86% and with group clients at 97%. The deposit balance also increased to over Rwf5 Billion. UOB's loan portfolio quality remained unchanged with PAR>30 days at 1.43%

7. In January, we reported an operating profit despite a slow seasonality and significant salary adjustments that we made for annual performance review. Also in February, we anticipate an operating profit despite a short month of only 29 calendar days of operation.

8. For the month of February, the number of clients who received at least one lesson of HLI training was more than 8,000. This reflects an increase and we desire to see this number grow even further in 2012. 

9. UOB began the best pilot testing of mobile and agent banking in February with four groups in Kigali. We disbursed loans to approximately 160 clients and they withdrew their money from agents. There was a little glitch with the first group, but all went through well. Also we started collecting loan payment from clients through agents and it has been going well. We were excited about this progress and praise the Lord for His grace with thanks to you who have prayed with us. This pilot testing will continue through May 2012.

10. We held the UOB Leadership Retreat in Gisenyi. 31 people of managers and higher level officers all attended. Through this retreat, we laughed together, loved the food and fellowship and learned from each other.    

11. Korean missionaries in Rwanda continued the monthly prayer fellowship and it was a blessing to us all. We hope to see this fellowship develop further to collaboration that will produce synergy for His Kingdom. 

12. Jeffrey continued serving God's people through preaching at UOB staff devotion and Agape Korean Church in Rwanda. He also led the weekly Shalom Bible Study, studying the Sermon on the Mount. It is a time of mutual blessing and spiritual growth.

13. We have the following Prayer Requests: Please...

      * Pray for the UOB's continuing holistic transformational development through Christian micro finance in Rwanda.
      * Pray for the continued beta pilot testing for mobile and agent banking until June.
      * Pray for a scaled-up progress in UOB's agricultural lending program.
      * Pray for successful development of financial resources for several projects under development. 
      * Pray for God's wisdom and guidance in designing effective educational finance products that will benefit many students in Rwanda
      * Pray for our children (Amanda + James, and Joyce) to figure out what God has in store for their lives on earth. 
      * Pray for God's peacefulness in the heart of Kristin's mom during her last days of life on earth

We appreciate your partnership with us through your prayer and support!   

Gratefully IN CHRIST,

Jeffrey and Kristin Lee from Kigali, RWANDA,

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