Uganda: Richard Henry Kimera, consumer advocate

Richard Henry Kimera, consumer advocate in Uganda

Richard Henry Kimera speaks up for those who are rarely heard in Uganda: consumers. He works hand in hand with the Ugandan Central Bank to protect and empower borrowers and savers. Thanks to this effort, more than 4.5 million clients are now benefiting from transparency and fairness in the financial sector. GIZ supports the development of financial consumer protection on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

What have you improved for consumers in Uganda?

Nowadays, all banks have to explain the loan and savings products in a local language – in Luganda, for example. Banks also have to disclose the ‘total cost of credit’, which includes all interest and fees the borrower will have to pay. This particularly benefits less educated Ugandans who don’t speak English and don’t have a lot of experience with banking and its associated risks and costs. Since 2013, all 31 regulated financial institutions have been trained to ensure that they treat consumers in line with the new requirements.

What was your dream when you were a boy?

I wanted to become involved in community work. My grandfather was a cooperative farmer and then a politician, and so was my father. I therefore knew from an early age that I also wanted to serve the community in one way or another. Maybe it is in my genes.

What makes you so passionate about consumer protection?

I contribute to the development of the community and society. Consumers in Uganda are not aware; hence they do not take action. It would be a better society if consumers used their power, spoke out and realised that they have rights and responsibilities. If we don’t empower our consumers, they will remain deprived and will fail to get value for their money.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Ministries and regulators have started to look at consumers in a different light and consumers have become empowered in different sectors such as finance, communications, trade and health. This was a great achievement for me and for GIZ, which supports consumer protection in the financial sector. When I walk around and see consumers speaking out, I see that my efforts have paid off.

What is your vision for the future?

I am striving for a better, safe and sustainable market for consumers, where consumers are responsible, where they use the resources they have at their disposal effectively – to sustain the environment and economy of our country.


        
    
Richard Henry Kimera is the Chief Executive of the Ugandan Consumer Education Trust. Photos: Cyrus Kawalya
Richard Henry Kimera is the Chief Executive of the Ugandan Consumer Education Trust. Photos: Cyrus Kawalya

        
    
Frequent guest: Richard Henry Kimera discusses consumer protection in the financial sector with the Ugandan Central Bank.
Frequent guest: Richard Henry Kimera discusses consumer protection in the financial sector with the Ugandan Central Bank.

        
    
Richard Henry Kimera moves comfortably between managers and market vendors. He links consumers and policy-makers.
Richard Henry Kimera moves comfortably between managers and market vendors. He links consumers and policy-makers.

        
    
Saving products are not the only concern of Richard Henry Kimera. Even while doing his daily shopping, he’s still working, checking on products and their quality.
Saving products are not the only concern of Richard Henry Kimera. Even while doing his daily shopping, he’s still working, checking on products and their quality.

        
    
The Bank of Uganda has been cooperating with GIZ for more than ten years to make financial products more consumer-friendly.
The Bank of Uganda has been cooperating with GIZ for more than ten years to make financial products more consumer-friendly.

        
    
The Consumer Education Trust works for financial literacy - this means imparting the skills, confidence and knowledge to manage one’s personal finances effectively.
The Consumer Education Trust works for financial literacy - this means imparting the skills, confidence and knowledge to manage one’s personal finances effectively.

        
    
He was awarded a certificate for his contribution to the national strategy on financial literacy by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank.
He was awarded a certificate for his contribution to the national strategy on financial literacy by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank.

        
    
Kimera spends his free time with his family. He has five children, who are already grown up.
Kimera spends his free time with his family. He has five children, who are already grown up.

        
    
Consumer protection is in his genes. His father and grandfather also served the community.
Consumer protection is in his genes. His father and grandfather also served the community.