Report for GALA on COWE 22 July 2015

CoverIn 2006/2007, COWE (a local company that transacted financial business without a license in breach of Ugandan law) marketed itself to the local communities in various districts in south-western Uganda as a charity helping to alleviate poverty in Uganda. Through a network of employees, COWE incentivised local people to invest funds with the organisation which it purported to use to support projects and work in the community to help orphans and the elderly, whilst at the same time promising those who invested a substantial return purportedly generated from membership fees, local tea projects, donations from Europe and the USA. Many individuals received back double the amount they had initially invested in a short period of time, which incentivised them to invest further monies and to spread the word. We have seen no evidence which suggests that international donations were in fact made and that local projects were effectively pursued and, when COWE started closing down its offices in early 2007, it became clear that COWE in fact operated as a typical pyramid scheme and that the investments made by the victims of the Scheme were lost.

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Jami, began her career as a commercial lawyer in New York. In 2005, she joined the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), an inter governmental organization based in Rome where she established the Organization’s department on microfinance regulation and financial services consumer protection. In 2011, Jami joined Consumers International, UK as a senior policy advisor on financial services consumer protection and access to justice for consumers in developing countries.

In 2013, Jami established the Global Alliance for Legal Aid (GALA) which supports access to justice for the poor through the provision of legal aid and public interest advocacy. GALA is a development partner of Advocates for International Development, UK and a founding member of Beyond CSR Net, UK.