The National Cooperative Credit Union Association-Sierra Leone Limited (NCCUA), the umbrella organization of all Credit Unions (CUs) in the country, on Tuesday 2nd July 2019 ended a two-day capacity-building training for 11 participants drawn nationwide.
Mrs. Lillian Songo, Chairperson of NACCUA enlightened that the intensive trainings over the years sponsored by the Irish League of Credit Union Foundation (ILCUF) have enabled them to establish CUs in most parts of the country recalling that in the past only few CUs existed mainly in Freetown and some parts of the country, adding that participants included the newly-elected executive of NACCUA, the Board of Directors, Supervisors and members of the various Committees.
The training was held at the ILCUF Office on 45 Fort Street in Freetown.
She commended their partners, especially the ILCUF, for their invaluable support to NACCUA underscoring that ILCUF has not only provided them trainings for staff but equipment like computers, furniture, motorbikes, safes, generators with plans to go digital with the introduction of the Management Information System (MIS) for CUs.
Other topics during the training included how to manage human resources, leadership skills, the role of the Board of Directors, Committees and employees, how to prepare strategic and business plans and budgets as well as presentations at AGMs.
Mrs. Lillian Songo said ILCUF is supported by the Irish Government through the Irish Aid highlighting that the governance training includes delinquency control, marketing, how to set strategic goals, prepare work plans, topics on effective management, proper financial management, how to prepare annual audits for external auditors, how to introduce new products and plan for Annual General Meetings informing that NACCUA is registered with the Cooperative Department in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and governed by the Cooperative Act of 1997 to organize people to contribute their own monies to develop themselves and own assets.
According to the Chairperson, with support from the ILCUF, NACCUA has succeeded to establish 28 CUs with a membership of 9,033 nationwide revealing that some of their functions include sensitizing the public, 80% of whom are financially excluded from the established financial institutions like banks, Discount Houses and the likes.
She further said that CUs are encouraged to save whatever small amount from Le1, 000 upwards or Le30, 000 monthly, register and buy shares to benefit from loans adding that their share capital is now Le1.36 billion, savings Deposit Le5.3 billion and loan portfolio Le6.4 billion articulating that CUs are different from other financial institutions as they cater for the poorest and that there are different types of CUs including employee based like Teachers Credit Unions and community based.
The Chairperson went on to state that members of CUs own and operate the business, that decisions are democratically taken in addition to the fact that they also formulate policies and byelaws governing their operations as well as elect their executive, Board of Directors, members of the Supervisory, Education, Loans and other Committees respectively and recalled that the current executive was elected for a three-year term on 12th April this year at their Annual General Meeting while the handing over ceremony took place on 20th May this year adding that elected leaders can serve two three year terms. Lilian Songo took over the chairmanship from Alhaji Alimamy Kamara.
She continued to say that NACCUA collaborates with CUs locally and internationally, highlighted the seven cooperative principles which includes, Open and voluntary membership, Democratic Member Control, Member economic participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education information and Communication, Cooperation among cooperatives and Concern for the community. NACCUA together with ILCUF Ltd are currently implementing Financial Inclusion for Resilience in Sierra Leone (FIRSL), a three-year project funded by Irish Aid and ILCU Foundation to increase CU membership to 13,000 with 60% women, train people from any shocks like landslide in Freetown, floods and drought who would be encouraged to become members of CUs.
Mrs. Lillian Songo said the project also includes supporting individual member credit unions, Apex body and working with government on credit union regulation. NACCUA is making visitation and monitoring of CUs to know what they are doing, sensitizing them on the relevance of savings. At Continental level, NACCUA has attended meetings and conferences organized by the African Confederation of Cooperatives Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA) held rotationally in member countries. This year alone, NACCUA has sent representatives to attend ACCOSCA meeting for West African block in Gambia, Other delegates from Regulator will join other Regulators from different countries in Lagos Nigeria and in October a delegation will join the rest of Africa to attend SACCA congress in Mombasa Kenya. This September the Chairperson will attend International Partners conference in Ireland to be organized by ILCUL to share experiences with other Continents.
She continued that they would also engage government to review the obsolete laws to reflect current trends. Credit Unions identify and help people with potentials but do not have the money through its different loan products intimating that they have emergency, education, housing, Microfinance and business loans and that CUs honors their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by offering scholarships to the poor, donating school materials and cleaning communities to give back to the community.
Dilating on the Central Financial Facility Scheme, she said it would mandate CUs to contribute 5% of their total savings to NACCUA to help those that are requires liquidity management and other loan facilities.
Concluding, she acclaimed Mr. Solomon Mwongyere, General Manager, Gilly O’ Sullivan, Junior Technical Advisor, Michael Gannon, Irina and Alan Moore from ILCUF, Ingrid from the Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada, Emmanuel Darko from the Ghana Credit Union Association and Baboucarr Jeng from The Gambia for their tremendous support to NACCUA.