Patrick Ayota, the Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), shared insights into the fund’s financial performance, strategic plans, and challenges during an interview. The NSSF, Uganda’s largest pension fund, aims to reach a UGX50 trillion target by 2035, focusing on increasing the willingness and ability to save among Ugandans.
The NSSF announced its financial results for the fiscal year 2022/23, which exceeded stakeholders’ expectations. Despite facing financial market challenges and intense scrutiny, the fund showcased remarkable resilience. It achieved a record collection of UGX192 billion in June 2023, surpassing its annual target by UGX120 billion. The fund also exceeded its voluntary savings target, ending the year with UGX1.72 trillion in collections, an increase of 16% compared to the previous year.
Customer satisfaction remained high at 87%, even amid scrutiny, demonstrating strong stakeholder trust. This trust can be attributed to the fund’s outstanding performance over the past decade, where it achieved a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20% in assets under management, rising from UGX1.7 trillion in 2009/10 to UGX17 trillion in 2021/22. Moreover, a consistent commitment to paying interest rates above the 10-year inflation rate contributed to member satisfaction.
The NSSF aims to achieve the UGX50 trillion target by 2035, focusing on expanding its reach into the informal sector. As of June 2023, only 10% of Uganda’s working population was covered by the fund. To increase this coverage, the NSSF plans to enhance both the willingness and ability to save. The fund introduced the NSSF Hi-Innovator program in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, which invests in startups, particularly in the informal sector. By supporting small and growing businesses, the NSSF aims to create jobs and attract new members.
Intervening in Agriculture
Agriculture is a vital sector in Uganda’s informal economy. The NSSF plans to address the demand side of agriculture by establishing a national marketing company that identifies markets for Ugandan products. This initiative will connect farmers with buyers, ensuring fair and predictable prices. By increasing farmers’ income, the fund expects to attract more members and achieve its goal of covering 50% of eligible workers.
Support for Startups
The NSSF provides grants to startups, and these grants may be converted into equity. The focus is not on making a profit but on helping startups grow and attract additional investment. Currently, the fund supports 265 startups and plans to expand this number to 2,000 by 2030.
Challenges and Future Goals
Maintaining the trust of members and meeting high expectations is a significant challenge for the NSSF. The fund aims to remain a well-governed organization and continue its mission to make lives better. Despite potential mistakes, the NSSF is committed to pursuing its ambitious UGX50 trillion target, keeping interest payments above the 10% inflation rate, and ensuring customer and staff satisfaction.
The NSSF is considering changes to its law to allow members to utilize their balances to secure homes. This would involve members using a portion of their savings as collateral when seeking mortgages, potentially reducing downpayment requirements and making homeownership more accessible.