Mrs Lorraine Scofield, Julie, Michelle and John;
The FINCA leadership and staff in Uganda and Internationally;
Members of the FINCA family in Uganda and globally,
Ladies and gentlemen;
I wish to register sincere condolences to you over the passing on of Rupert Scofield; a husband, a dad and head of the FINCA family. We thank God for the gift of Rupert’s life.
We also thank his immediate family for allowing him to share his time, ideas and resources with us. More importantly, for allowing him to work with some of us, as partners, in the fulfillment of his mission in this world.
We have all lost a great person who has made major contribution to humanity by focusing on the economic empowerment of the poor through the FINCA village banking model. In my view, the only other person who has attained comparable credentials in the field of micro credit is Yunus Muhammad of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. However, Rupert and FINCA has a presence in many more countries, all over the world.
Rupert had certain special attributes;
He could fit in any environment and freely relate to all people irrespective of their status;
He led a highly purposeful life, was highly results-oriented, 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.
Our contact and relationship with Rupert was made possible due to the fact that Rupert, myself and Sam Kigwana 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.
Sam Kigwana and I had shared this strong desire with Tom Warth of Books for Africa in Minnesota, when we interacted, as he was pursuing investment opportunities and the Books project in Uganda. He offered to support us, approached Rotary International, McKnight Foundation and interested Rupert, whose FINCA village banking methodology/model fitted in very well, as a solution to what we were trying to grapple with.
In 1992 Rupert was able to come to Uganda and the three of us founded FINCA(U). We set up offices in Jinja and opened three village banks at Kimanto, Wakitaka and Wanyange.
As our operations expanded we were joined by James Semakadde (RIP), Ms Joyce Kadowe, Fabian Kasi and a good number of highly committed young Ugandans. It is most gratifying that today, FINCA (U) is under good leadership 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. This was under the stewardship and guidance of Rupert.
Rupert has been one of Uganda’s best ambassadors, courtesy of what he has been doing to market our country, Uganda: In 1998 Uganda hosted the American President. H E Bill Clinton and Mrs Hillary Clinton together with HE President Museveni and Mama Janet Museveni visited the FINCA Village bank in Wanyange, Butembe, Jinja.
Rupert had successfully marketed the FINCA village banking model in Uganda with the American president. This visit was a clear sign of appreciation of the good work FINCA was doing to economically empower the poor women, to educate their children and to help transform communities.
In effect, FINCA (U) played a pioneering role in the field of micro-credit/finance in Uganda. This visit also helped deliver a clear message to the world that Uganda was a peaceful, secure and stable country that was ready to welcome international visitors and investors, from any part of the world.
The international media coverage and publicity received by Uganda and FINCA, during and after this visit, was unprecedented and put us on a new trajectory. Following this visit, many new programs and products have since been introduced that have benefited Ugandans and the FINCA family globally.
We therefore, gather here to pay commendation to the life of a highly illustrious global personality whose good work has impacted many lives, transformed many communities and will remain present in our minds for many years to come.
Rupert has served humanity with total commitment and dedication, it is our duty to emulate him, build on what he started and perpetuate his legacy.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
The author is a founder director FINCA (U), former minister, Government of Uganda
Source: The Observer