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Housing Finance Bank, World Remit Partner to Boost Diaspora Banking

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In line with their strategic objective of improving customer service delivery particularly through use of technology, Housing Finance Bank has entered a partnership with World Remit to bring convenient money transfer to the Bank’s diaspora segment.

The partnership will add value to both existing and potential diaspora customers by enabling them to send money to their loved ones at a low cost, invest in housing and also make an investment in treasury products like government securities, treasury bills and bonds as well as custodial services.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Michael Mugabi, the Managing Director at Housing Finance Bank noted that Housing Finance Bank participates in different diaspora events such as UNAA Convention, UNAA Causes, UK convention, Uganda Community in the Netherlands convention, Dubai convention annually between July and October as a way of extending Bank products to customers.

“As a Bank, we believe in adding value to our diaspora customers (both existing and potential) and our surrounding communities. That is why this partnership is one that we take pride in as we continue to enable home ownership and financial independence. Our customers will be sending money directly to their bank accounts,” he noted.

“Over 50 years now, Housing Finance Bank has continued to provide viable solutions that enable home ownership for all Ugandans and together, we shall leverage on all available platforms to enable home ownership and financial independence. This partnership will solve problems of loss of funds through relatives, High cost of transfer, late mortgage repayments, lack of means to invest in government securities and many others,” Mugabi added.

The United Nations Human Development Report 2016 estimates the number of Ugandans in the diaspora at 2.5 million people but only 30% save back home. As of January 2021, Housing Finance Bank had 2,267 customers enabling them acquire homes and transact seamlessly. This partnership is expected to boost inward remittances as customers will be able to access services on mobile phones, tablets and computers through the World Remit App which is approved in more than 220 countries globally.

Housing Finance Bank, Bulooka App Unveil Digital Trading Platform

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Housing Finance Bank and Bulooka App announced a new partnership to launch a digitized platform that enables customers to acquire property and motor vehicles in a fast, convenient, and hassle-free environment.

The users of the app will also be able to open accounts, pre-apply for a mortgage or chat with a Housing Finance Bank customer service assistant through the BULOOKA APP.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Michael Mugabi, the Managing Director at Housing Finance Bank noted that this partnership is pivotal in riding on the current digital transformation to support businesses across the entire housing value chain.

“I have personally encountered numerous absurd stories where prospective home-owners have lost millions of shillings through purchase of contested land, or been cheated by relatives under the guise of building for them homes particularly those in the diaspora without any means of tracking the construction process. Against this background Bulooka mobile app joins the housing eco-system at the right time to connect all sector participants by providing a free platform for advertising verified properties and connecting with the leading provider of mortgage financing in Uganda to offer on-hand credit support for the purchase of the desired property,” he said.

This partnership creates an integrated and simple to use platform where all real estate and property stakeholders interact seamlessly, cheaply and efficiently.

Speaking during the launch, Mr. Dennis Kamurasi, the Executive Director, Bulooka (U) Ltd, explained that the partnership will change how real estate business is going to be done in this market.

“The Bulooka App functionalities will direct client collaboration, lead generation and digital advertisements that have a direct applicability to the housing industry as well as home ownership.  Our goal is to make all Bulooka App functionalities available to an audience nationwide through this partnership with Housing Finance Bank.”

Bulooka App, among others, offers 3 key features;

  • In-app account opening and pre-mortgage application and chat with banker ability.
  • Offline capability which allows users to navigate and transact in the absence of an internet connection.

Unlimited access to a wide variety of properties and vehicles where users deal directly with owners or their authorized agents.

Housing Finance Bank, Enwealth Financial Services Hold a Training on Mortgage access through Retirement Benefits Schemes

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“Financiers are an important part of the housing value chain.” These were remarks made by Housing Finance Bank Executive Director Ms. Peace Kabunga, during a training on mortgages held at Kabira Country Club in partnership with Enwealth Financial Services.

The training that lasted two days, covered a number of topics that included the mortgages housing model, selecting a mortgage provider and many other key topics to assist Ugandans in learning about and taking the necessary steps to own property through mortgage financing.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the current housing deficit in Uganda is estimated at 2.1 million units, with the deficit at its highest in Kampala. In order to curtail this deficit, Housing Finance Bank has put in place interventions including 100% financing to enable the purchase or completion of residential property, partnership with low-cost housing developers, flexible loan repayments and Incremental housing which enables construction in phases as well as use of untitled land. The Bank is also actively facilitating housing support services including loans for solar and water connection.

Speaking at the training, Ms. Kabunga quoted the Center for Affordable Housing Finance (CAHF) report that stated that Uganda is largely driven by private sector-led housing development, which is unable to meet the growing demand for affordable housing. There is thus a widening deficit of housing, estimated at 200 000 units a year.

She further noted that 61% of working class live in rented houses and that 90% of households live in a rented apartment for up to 3 years and then shift. Additionally, most Ugandans build in phases for an average of 4 years as it is difficult to get money in a lumpsum. Unfortunately, most retirement packages do not support completion of a house at retirement.

On selecting a mortgage provider, Kabunga advised Ugandans to always do their due diligence to ensure that the selected provider has experience in the mortgage business, the financial strength to suit their needs and can provide an all inclusive cost for the mortgage.

Over the past few months, Housing Finance Bank has entered into partnerships with the strategic objective of reducing the housing deficit in Uganda. Innovations such as the partnership with Bulooka App allow for Ugandans to open accounts, look for properties to buy and even pre-apply for a mortgage without additional fees.

Housing Finance Bank launches unsecured salary loan campaign

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Housing Finance Bank (HFB) has launched a consumer loan campaign aiming at delivering improved financial access to its growing customer base.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Michael Mugabi – the Managing Director at HFB said they have deliberately made the loans unsecured for the salaried customers, eliminating the need for any form of collateral.  Our customers can now access up to Ug. Shs. 300 million to take care of their personal development and acquire homes, plots of land, cars and other requirements as the country embarks on the path to economic recovery.

“Asked what one needs to access this loan, Mr Mugabi said, “All they need is a salary account and an employment contract with your organisation.

The Bank is offering amounts as high as Ug. Shs. 300m, with long repayment periods of up to 72 months to enable customers to have lower monthly instalments. For customers who wish to transfer their loans to Housing Finance Bank, special waivers on arrangement fees are readily available.

Mr Mugabi emphasized that one does not need to have banked with the Housing Finance Bank to borrow.

Housing Finance Bank named Most Innovative Bancassurance Agent for 2020

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Housing Finance Bank has been named the most innovative bancassurance agent for the year 2020 at Annual Insurance innovation awards held at Serena hotel on December 18, 2020.

Receiving the accolade, Michael Mugabi, the Managing Director of Housing Finance Bank noted that consumers are now, more than ever expecting rapid responses and personalized care and as a result, insurance service providers ought to ensure that customer service remains a priority.

“In the year ahead, as Housing Finance Bank we pledge to maximize customer-oriented service, execute maximum competitiveness in products, business operation, and systematically establish and strengthen mid-and long-term strategic partnerships,” he stated.

The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) announced the inaugural Insurance Innovation Awards early this year and are aimed at recognizing the role innovation plays in advancing the insurance sector in Uganda.

According to IRA, the focus of these awards is on use of new technologies, new products and services, and other advancements in the insurance industry with the aim of fostering innovation and creativity in insurance sector.

Housing Finance Bank was licensed to sell insurance products to its customers on the 13th of April 2018 by the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) of Uganda. Overtime, the Bank’s market share has grown from 2.7% in 2018 to 4% in 2019 according to IRA industry data. Q1 results however show that the Bank underwrote the most general business premiums registering Gross Written Premium of Ugx. 1.2Bn.

“The sectors’ distribution revolution has given a new dimension to insurance products distribution on the market. Housing Finance Bank together with Insurance partners have crafted insurance solutions for its various customer segments thereby creating more customer satisfaction,” Mugabi added on the sidelines of the awards event.

Housing Finance Bank’s flagship product is the Group Life Insurance embedded on to the revolutionary Saveplus Savings Account. This is an incremental savings account for future investments with free embedded insurance as outlined; Life Cover of up to Ugx.25M, Total Permanent Disability Cover of Up to Ugx.12.5m, Medical Cash benefit and Last Expense Benefit.

The product has led to increased Insurance penetration. This is depicted by the 47% growth in enrollments over a one-year period that is from 1,671 in August 2019 to 2,464 by November 2020.  It has also led to an improved customer savings culture. This is depicted by the 80% growth in account average deposits over a one-year period that is from Ugx.1.5m in August 2018 to Ugx.2.3m by November 2020.

Housing Finance Bank Digital Buffet – Season 2

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David Twinamasiko, the Senior Manager Alternate Channels highlights more on how you can win in the Digital Buffet Campaign Season 2.

HFB DIGITAL BUFFET CAMPAIGN SEASON 2

David Twinamasiko, the Senior Manager Alternate Channels highlights more on how you can win in the Digital Buffet Campaign Season 2.

Posted by Housing Finance Bank on Monday, November 23, 2020

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David Twinamasiko, the Senior Manager Alternate Channels at Housing Finance Bank

Housing Finance Bank has embedded security in all transactions without making it complex to the customer – Twinamsiko

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David Twinamasiko, the Senior Manager Alternate Channels at Housing Finance BankA growing demand for convenient means of transactions and the need for 24-7 services means that more customers are now enjoying a greater sense of freedom. Availability is the name of the game as customers would like instant access to loans, deposits and their account status. We caught up with David Twinamasiko, the Senior Manager Alternate Channels at Housing Finance Bank to explain to us what it is that the bank is doing in this regard. Below are the excerpts;

Qn: How do you rate digital transformation in the banking sector?

There has been a remarkable shift to digitization of banking services Over the Last ten years .In this period, most banks have embarked on digitizing most of the their processes with changes in their core banking systems to deliver more value to the customer as a result of efficient and leaner processes. This has significantly led to introduction of several innovations to the clients which have increased remote access of banking services from the comfort of their workplaces and homes. Clients are able now to check their balances, make payments and transfer funds conveniently with handheld devices like mobile phones in a very secure way among several interventions in place.

Qn: What alternative channels does Housing Finance Bank currently offer?

Housing Finance Bank has certainly gone through the digital transformation to create more value to its customers with introduction of Mobile Banking in 2015, MasterCard, Internet Banking and Agent Banking in 2019. At the Beginning of 2020, we delivered our corporate internet banking suite to our business and institutional customers. All these services augment our client’s access to banking services remotely which saves them a lot of time and money and inherently increasing their business value. Our ATM network which has provided services to our customers since 2004 has grown over the years with the onboarding of Interswitch and MasterCard. Our Clients now have access to over 500 ATMs locally and access in over 200 countries with their MasterCard.
Our internet Banking is a self-registration service that can be accessed anytime while the other services are activated in less than 30 minutes at our branches.

Qn: What percentage of HFB customers are now using alternative channels?

Over 75% of the bank clients use our alternate channels. The Bank has over the years educated the clients about the benefits of using our alternate channels which actually empower them. Our digital services are offered in a secure way to the clients. We are aware that is not simply about preventing an attack but also ensuring the security features are well blended with the transactions in a simple way by removing the complex requirements. A shift to use alternate channels has also been enhanced more recently by the move to go cashless due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qn: Has Housing Finance Bank registered an increase in digital channels since the onset of the Corona virus pandemic?

The COVID-19 has created a shift globally to use digital channels. This is also seen from the recent BOU reports for the period ending June 2020 where cashless transactions have recorded increased activity during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Data from Bank of Uganda attributes the increase to actions undertaken to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The report also notes that the value of mobile and Internet banking transactions increased by 157.3 percent and 52.9 per cent, respectively. Active users on Internet and mobile banking platforms grew notably by 36.7 per cent and 46.9 per cent, respectively during the period. Certainly Housing Bank has strongly advised clients on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and among them increased awareness to utilize digital channels. This has certainly created a shift to embrace our Internet and mobile Banking which are complemented by the agent banking access points which are in the local communities.

Qn: We have seen the introduction of Apps by many banks in Uganda offering a range of services. Please share some of the unique services offered by the HFB mobile app.

The Housing Finance Bank Mobile app is one of a kind with a warm look and feel for any user with an android or apple mobile device. The app is accessed in the play store and apple store for android and apple users respectively.
With the HFB app, you can conduct a Balance check for deposit or loan account remotely, Transfer of funds to accounts in the bank, Standing order creation and other services requests like cheque ordering, Payment for all your utility services like pay TV among others. The app also facilitates transfer to mobile network providers for mobile money services.
It should be noted that our clients can access our mobile banking service using the code *225# on any type of mobile phone whether smart or feature.

Qn: Security remains a major concern for Ugandans especially given the increase in instances of fraud and online attacks on financial institutions. How is HFB addressing this issue?

The Bank has embedded security in all transactions without making it complex to the client.
Users are required to use passwords to verify access to services and also use one-time passwords to validate any financial transaction. We have provided both soft and hard tokens for our corporate internet banking clients to generate one-time passwords to validate the transactions. The Bank regularly sends advisory to the clients on how to detect and avoid fraud schemes in any form using our social media accounts, radio and email.
All our back-office processes are secured and control measures are in place to detect any form of fraud on any of our digital platforms 24/7. We also ensure that all the partners associated with the bank providing services are regularly audited and carryout tests to ensure their environments are secure. Compliance to all regulatory requirements and international best practice is embedded in our day to day operations.
Our contact center is available to our clients 24/7 to report any suspicious activity and any form of compliant which keeps the bank connected to the client.

Qn: Can we expect a reduction in physical branches as Housing Finance increases its focus on alternative channels of banking?

The Bank has maintained an optimal complement of the branches to support our clients. The branches offer their special place to our clients since we cannot eliminate face to face interactions which create room for break through client-led innovations.
Focus on the use of alternate channels of banking will remain high in 2021 and years to come. This is mainly driven by the customer need for convenience and the need to be in control of their finances (Financial Independence). The Bank takes closer review of the customer needs and develops services that meet these needs. This philosophy drives our innovation and we seek to increase use of the alternative channels from 75% to 85% in the next year.

Qn: What else can Ugandans expect in the future from a digital perspective?

Ugandans own their destiny and all innovations that will create impact will come from interactions with the Ugandan Customer. These client-led innovations create more value to the users since these meet their needs. Therefore, from a digital perspective, more interventions that allow the customer to open an account remotely, update it with any information and even borrow money using their mobile devices are going to become common place. This increases access to the financial services and strengthens their potential to obtain other financial products like housing loans that significantly improve their well-being. We as Housing Finance Bank seek to fulfil our purpose to enable home ownership and financial independence. All our digital innovations will follow this philosophy to prosper Ugandans.

HFB and AFD sign a €10.5 million agreement towards affordable housing in Uganda

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Today, Mr. Michael MUGABI, the Managing Director Housing Finance Bank Uganda and Mr. Hatem CHAKROUN, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) country Director in Uganda have signed two financing agreements to the tune of euro 10.5 million (UGX 46.5 bn).

The line of credit and technical assistance aim at supporting the development of a housing finance offer adapted to the needs of the populations all over Uganda.

The signing was done in the presence of H.E. Mr. Jules-Armand ANIAMBOSSOU, Ambassador of France to Uganda.

Mr. Michael MUGABI, the Managing Director Housing Finance Bank Uganda and Mr. Hatem CHAKROUN, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) country Director in UgandaThe euro 10 million line of credit from AFD aims to finance the deployment of Housing Finance Bank’s housing microfinance and affordable housing offer, enabling them to diversify the mortgage loan offer to include low and middle-income populations, who currently do not have access to an adequate financial offer.

“We are proud to be associated with The French Government and AFD regarding the mutual objective of contributing to the economic development of Uganda especially through enabling people build affordable and decent housing incrementally which is the preference for most Ugandans,” Mr. Mugabi noted.

Adding, “The dire need for decent housing especially for low income people in the informal sector which accounts for most of the population in the country remains a big concern for the Government of Uganda and Housing Finance Bank. Together, We shall enable home ownership to the majority of the Ugandans that would otherwise not be able to because they can’t afford it, or don’t have a title for the property or don’t have a formal job.”

In order to create an affordable housing financing product, Housing Finance Bank partnered with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) to conduct a market study in 2018 on housing financing opportunities for low- and middle-income populations. The results of this study were very positive and showed a strong potential for Housing Finance Bank in the low-income segment, especially regarding loans for incremental and/or self-built housing, as well as a micro mortgage loan for housing.

AFD’s financing will enable HFB to roll out its microfinance offer in its 19 branches located throughout the country. The loans will average euros 4,200 (UGX 18.7 million) and target populations earning between euro 45 and 450 monthly (between UGX 200,000 and 2 million).

Additionally, a euro 500,000 technical assistance will enable the Bank to strengthen its skills to provide products adapted to the needs of the populations. This grant will be used to reinforce the capacity of local builders in order to develop green housing solutions and improved construction techniques.

According to H.E. Mr. Jules-Armand Aniambossou, “The financing agreement we are signing today is the result of a long term cooperation that started in 2011 between the Housing Finance Bank and the French Development Agency, France’s public bank. Since then, both institutions have learnt to know each other, resulting in this ambitious programme that will improve the lives of many Ugandans. Access to home ownership and affordable housing is a vector of social integration and a factor of human development. Decent housing improves people’s living conditions and has a positive impact on the health and education, and it is important to France to play a supporting role in this matter.”

Housing Finance Bank is making affordable housing a reality

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Yunus Babuwaire, the Senior Manager, Personal Banking at Housing Finance BankWith the Uganda Bureau of Statistics estimating that the housing deficit in Uganda is at 2.1 million units, experts have said that this situation needs urgent attention. The deficit is estimated to be highest in Kampala.

We caught up with Yunus Babuwaire, the Senior Manager, Personal Banking at Housing Finance Bank to explain the key interventions the Bank has put in place.  Below are the excerpts.

Qn: What does housing finance mean?

Housing finance can be defined as provision of credit to enable home ownership. At Housing Finance Bank we have expanded this scope to cover housing and its entire value chain.

Qn: What is Housing Finance Bank doing to help increase access to affordable housing?

Housing Finance has a wide range of solutions to assist Ugandans to meet all their housing needs. These include:

  1. Incremental housing which enables;
    • Construction in phases
    • Use of untitled land
    • Financing housing support services like; solar and water connection
  1. 100% financing – to purchase or complete your residential property, you can access up to 100% finance to enable you realize your dream.
  2. Partnership with developers of low-cost housing to build and sell affordable houses to Ugandans.
  3. Flexibility repayments options which include;
    • Grace period
    • Early loan redemption
    • Longer repayment periods

Qn: What kind of housing finance solutions does Housing Finance Bank provide?

We provide different housing finance solutions to cater for Ugandans in all income brackets including those in the diaspora. Our solutions range from purchasing land or incomplete houses to outrightly purchasing multiple units. These include:

  • Incremental loans Land Purchase
  • Land Purchase
  • Home Loans
  • Multi-unit purchase or construction
  • Equity release
  • Renovation

Qn: Please walk us through the process of applying for a home loan and what happens after you give me the loan.

We endeavor to make the loan application process as simple and straight forward as possible. All you have to do is follow the simple process below;

  • Approach the bank with your specific need.
  • Discuss the need with our relationship officers and get advised on a solution and the requirements.
  • Submit the requirements for assessment and approval and receive our offer.
  • When you accept our offer, then you can get your house or property and start paying our loan

Qn: What happens after?

We offer additional financial advisory services to help you make the right decisions on repayment and resolve any challenges if any.We also offer Insurance for the property.

Qn: The world today is filled with different uncertainties that can affect people’s ability to make payments. How does Housing Finance Bank protect borrowers in such cases?

We are always aware of uncertainties thatmight affect the ability of borrowers to make payments. In this case, we offer relief packages such as:

  • Moratoriums
  • Loan restructures

Qn: In what ways can government policy change to help increase access to affordable housing and housing finance.

  1. Review of tax regime in the housing sector and its raw materials.
  2. Legislation to provide laws that support growth of housing sector.
  3. Stimulate household income to improve demand by ensuring stable economic growth.
  4. Building a good regulatory frame work that boast investment in the housing sector.
  5. Review Tax regime to reduce the cost of acquiring and owning a home. This can include reducing the high stamp duty taxes and reviewing the rental income tax.
  6. Government can also improve infrastructure, road network, Water and electricity supply which will in turn increase the suitability of more affordable land in places out of Kampala.
  7. Finally, we need to automate the lands system.

Qn: How is the housing finance Baraza conversation helping to advance your role as the leader in providing housing finance solutions in Uganda?

The Housing Finance Baraza has created a platform to interact with key players in the housing value chain such as Architects, Developers, suppliers and manufactures of construction materials, Engineers, Financiers/ Banks ,insurance companies and many other stakeholders with a common goal of providing affordable houses.

The Baraza also creates awareness on the different affordable housing solution both in terms of financing and availability of houses both to our local and international market to enable customer make cost effective decisions on acquiring affordable housing.

Housing Finance Bank Celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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On Friday 23rd October, Housing Finance Bank hosted staff members to a healthcare webinar in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries. In low- and middle-income countries the incidence has been rising up steadily in the past few years due to increase in life expectancy, increased urbanization and adoption of certain lifestyles. In Uganda, breast cancer the second most common cancer in women coming only next to cancer of the cervix.

During the webinar that was facilitated by a trained healthcare expert, the staff members were taught about early detection, treatment, staging, management and self-examination as a method of detecting breast cancer before it has progressed.

According to Ms. Peace Lillian Piwang, the Head of Human Resource at Housing Finance Bank, awareness and early detection of breast cancer are constitute the key breast cancer prevention avenues.

“We believe in the fact that health is ealth and the wellbeing of our staff and their families is a key priority here at Housing Finance Bank. We therefore felt it prudent to commemorate breast cancer awareness month with a free education session to equip our staff with the right tools to avoid breast cancer,” she said.

Aside from the webinar, Housing Finance Bank staff at the different Bank branches donned pink ribbons throughout the day in a show of solidarity with breast cancer patients and survivors.