Africa Congress Kicks Off for First Time in Malawi
SACCO delegates from Kenya and Cameroon participate in the opening
ceremonies of the 8th annual Africa Congress. WOCCU officially welcomed
the Cameroon Co-operative Credit Union League as its newest member at
BLANTYRE, Malawi — More than 400 credit
union delegates from 21 countries opened the 8th
annual World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU’s)
Africa Congress today with a colorful
representation of flags, national attire and
cultural dances at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in
Blantyre, Malawi. Participants from across Africa,
parts of Europe and North America are meeting
through November 2 for the first time in the
African nation to discuss issues around the theme
“SACCOs: Mobilizing Savings for Sustainable
Community Development.” SACCO, which stands for
Savings and Credit Co-operative, is the acronym
often used to describe Africa’s credit unions.
For four days, participants will hear from
international speakers about challenges and best
practices on a host of topics, including not only
savings mobilization and community development,
but also global credit union development,
technology, branding and HIV/AIDS programs.
“The coming of the congress to Malawi has made
Malawians realize that the SACCO movement is not
just a small thing being promoted in this country,
but that it actually belongs to a much larger
movement on the continent and throughout the
world,” said Sylvester Kadzola, Malawi Union of
Savings and Credit Co-operatives (MUSCCO) chief
executive officer and WOCCU board member. “That
alone has made people here realize for the first
time the significance of the movement.”
Several government representatives
were guests of honor at the opening ceremony of the Africa Congress.
Seated with the congress organizers are (l-r): Roy Chizimba, Malawi's
Deputy Minister of Economic Planning; Nedson Chikuta, MUSCCO board
president; Ken Lipenga, Malawi's Minister of Industry and Trade;
Bernard Sande, Principal Secretary of Malawi's Ministry of Industry and
Trade; Sylvester Kadzola, MUSCCO chief executive officer and WOCCU
board member; and Neil McDonald, WOCCU board member.
The Africa Congress is the first SACCO function in
which MUSCCO has had significant Malawian
government representation, according to Kadzola.
Two ministers of parliament and two deputy
ministers attended the opening ceremony, as well
as three government officials from Kenya. Both
Malawi and Kenya currently have SACCO-specific
laws being passed by their parliaments, making the
ministers’ attendance especially relevant.
“The mobilization of savings in rural communities
creates a safe mechanism for the money to be
reinvested in the community for sustainable
development,” said Nedson Chikuta, MUSCCO board
chair. “SACCOs are about sustainable development,
self-help and self reliance.”
According to WOCCU’s 2006 Statistical
Report, 24 African countries reported that
more than 8,000 credit unions across the continent
serve 7% of the entire population. Africa has the
fastest growing membership of all regions, the
Ken Lipenga, Malawi’s Minister of Industry and
Trade, had nothing but praise for the SACCOs,
indicating that their work complements government
efforts to reduce poverty levels and that savings
mobilization is crucial to decreasing the amount
of foreign aid flowing into the country.
“The only hope for our people as far as access to
financial services is concerned is the SACCO
movement,” said Lipenga, who was the Africa
Congress guest of honor on behalf of President
Bingu wa Mutharika.
New to this year’s Africa Congress is WOCCU’s
supplemental Manager Certification Program, a
two-year course of study modeled after the Western
CUNA Management School for current and aspiring
credit union managers. The program offers training
on a range of topics, including financial
analysis, marketing, savings mobilization and
credit administration. The program requires
participants to complete a project at their credit
union and to successfully pass an exam at the end
of each year’s sessions. Thirty Africa Congress
participants from five countries enrolled in the
Manager Certification course this week.
The Africa Congress is co-sponsored by MUSCCO,
WOCCU, the Canadian Co-operative Association, the
Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation and the
African American Credit Union Coalition.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: (608) 395-2000