When Hon. Daudi Mpabulungi Migereko eulogizes Rupert Scofield (1949-2022), one cannot help but wish for immortality for some people that God has used as vessels to transform multiple communities.
“I vividly remember that day when Rupert Scofield came from USA to meet Sam Kigwana and myself here in Uganda, which visit led to the birth of probably the first structured micro credit facility; FINCA(U) in 1992” Recalls Daudi Migereko
Scofield, Kigwana and Migereko founded Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA)Uganda with offices in Jinja and three branches at Kimanto, Wakitaka and Wanyange. “We were using one old Datsun car offered by my elder brother Firipo Mpabulungi” As FINCA Uganda’s operations expanded they were joined by James Semakadde (RIP), Ms. Joyce Kadowe, Fabian Kasi and a good number of highly committed young Ugandans.
“In honour of Rupert, It is most gratifying that today, FINCA(U) is under good leadership at Board level, professional management and is well established in practically every District of Uganda. This very team, together with FINCA International, were able to move to other countries in Africa and started FINCA Village Banking in those countries.” says the former Minister of Energy and Mineral Development as well as Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban development, Daudi Migereko who serves as a Hospitality entrepreneur and Chairman Uganda Tourism Board (UTB). He relinquished his position on the Board of FINCA (U) once he was appointed a Cabinet Minister by President Museveni. Nevertheless, Migereko and family remained close to Rupert and FINCA and enjoyed a highly supportive and rewarding relationship .
Though most known for micro finance and social enterprises development, Rupert Scofield has been one of Uganda’s best ambassadors, if we are to go by what he has been doing to market Uganda.
Notably, in 1998 Uganda hosted the American President. H.E Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton who together with H.E President Museveni and Mama Janet visited the FINCA Village Bank in Wanyange, Butembe, Jinja. Here, Rupert had successfully marketed the FINCA Village Banking Model in Uganda to the American President which globalized the commendable work FINCA was doing to economically empower the poor women, to educate their children and to help transform communities in a peaceful, secure and stable country, ready to welcome international visitors and investors.
“ We had for some time been brainstorming starting a microfinance project but had not quite got things right. Rupert helped us to navigate through this. Forty years ago, microfinance was called micro-credit”. Mr. Migereko grins in utter remembrance.
Prior to the micro credit trend, before it even had a name, Rupert Scofield had lent USD.50 loans each to 800 Guatemalan farmers in the form of six bags of 12-24-12 fertilizer, which dramatically increased their yields on the plots of maize and beans they cultivated which confirmed that, the micro credit business model is what would fit the peasants, urban and peri-urban poor in Busoga, Uganda.
Mr. Migereko testifies that consequently that led to the adoption of the FINCA Village Banking business model whose first Africa branch eventually took root in Uganda (FINCA Uganda). Micro-credit/Micro Finance became inseparable from rural economic development all over Africa that it had been replicated in five continents and 45 countries all over the world by the time Rupert died this November 27, 2022 at the age of 73.
As an agricultural economist with 40 years of experience in developing countries, it is no surprise he concentrated the last part of his life sensitising leaders in social enterprises development models.
According to Wikipedia, Scofield dodged compulsory Vietnam War service in 1971 and instead joined the Peace Corps where he assisted farmers in the highlands of Guatemala. It was during this time in his life that Scofield saw how extremely small loans could have an effect on any community.
“After leaving the Peace Corps, Scofield worked for the American Institute for Free Labour Development on land reform in El Salvador. Scofield noted that his time in El Salvador was dangerous due to landlords in the country disputing the expropriation of their plantations. This culminated in Oldfield’s boss being murdered,” Wikipaedia.
“In 1984, Scofield co-founded FINCA International with John Hatch to provide savings accounts, loans and other financial services to poor and low-income people,” according to Wikipedia.
FINCA initially focused on lending to women mainly because Scofield had noted that Women are more honest about repaying loans and also more likely to invest the profits in their children.
At his funeral in Hudson, NY, USA. It was all gloom as mourners noted how solely missed he will be. Many agree that Rupert, changed the World by providing hope and opportunity to so many marginalized people.
Mr. Migereko further notes that “Rupert had certain special attributes: Rupert could fit in any environment and freely relate with all people irrespective of their status in society, he led a highly purposeful life, was highly results oriented, was highly efficient in his work and always mentored young people. His mission in life coupled with the above attributes enabled Rupert and FINCA to reach-out and impact millions of people in different parts of the world, including us here, in Uganda.”
In cold remembrance, Mr. Migereko observes that the relationship with Rupert was made possible due to the fact that Rupert, Sam Kigwana and himself happened to share the same ideals and had a strong desire to empower people economically by enabling them to access credit, even when they had no collateral to offer.
“As a person who spent many a night sorting out with Rupert and Kigwana the nitty-gritty of microfinance, I am very deeply touched by his death. But then, this is the way for all of us in the end!. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace!” mourns the former Member of Parliament for Butembe county and former Minister in several portfolios in President Museveni’s Government in Uganda. for energy who is most known for championing the Rural Electrification community development model. A mission that aligns with Scofield’s life time goal and FINCA International’s mission “To alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people build assets, create jobs and raise their standard of living”