The World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU), in coordination with Strathmore University of Nairobi, Kenya, recently held the first of three intensive training sessions for management and board members of African Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). Funding for the program, called the Strathmore-WOCCU African Management Institute (SWAMI), has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and CUNA Mutual Group Foundation.
WOCCU and Strathmore were able to offer scholarships to promising students thanks to the generous support of American Heritage Federal Credit Union, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and a coordinated effort between the Southeast Regional Credit Union School and the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL). Two leaders from PCUA and LCUL, assistant vice president Rick Myxter and CEO Anne Cochran respectively, also volunteered their time, leading informative workshops.
Tier one of the SWAMI, which ran from November 8- 13, focused on financial management, marketing, good governance and accounting principles, with the ultimate goal of ensuring institutional sustainability among SACCOs. Tiers two and three will be held in July and November of 2005.
This three-tiered approach marks a departure from the format of prior training programs developed by WOCCU and Strathmore. "In creating the current system, organizers considered the feedback of past participants, the need to focus on the training of board members and managers, and the success of the tiered approach as used at credit union training schools in the US," explained Catherine Ford, WOCCU project manager.
The SWAMI curriculum is comprised of two parts, one for each of the two groups of students—the SACCO Certified Manager Programme for the management students and the SACCO Board Leadership Program for the board members. Twenty- seven SACCO managers and over thirty SACCO board members representing South Africa, Kenya and Seychelles make up the first class of the SWAMI.
"It is very exciting to see so many students from all over Africa participating in the Institute this year," said Anne Cochran, who has volunteered her time and expertise over the past year to creating the Institute. "It has been a resounding success so far, with terrific evaluations on the courses and teachers. I strongly believe that in the near future the Institute will come to represent a hallmark of SACCO professionalism."
Management students studied financial accounting, governance, WOCCU's PEARLS financial monitoring system, marketing and policy development. Board members arrived near the end of the program for training on governance and policy development and then joined management students for combined classes at the end of the session.
Upon successful completion of their assignments, students will proceed to tier two in July. After completing all three tiers, SACCO managers and board members will be awarded the Certified SACCO Professional Designation (CSP). Everyone is looking forward to seeing this first SWAMI class graduate in November 2005.
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.