Nairobi, Kenya – The African credit union movement has been strengthened with the first class of Certified SACCO Professionals (CSPs) and board members. On November 5th, 38 students graduated from the Strathmore-WOCCU African Management Institute (SWAMI). The first to graduate from this training program for savings and cooperative (SACCO) managers and board members, the 38 graduates hail from four African countries: Kenya, Seychelles, Uganda, and South Africa.
The program is split into two groups of student tracks: the more intensive SACCO Certified Manager Programme for management students and the SACCO Board Leadership Program for board members. Each track has three tiers, held in separate sessions and focusing on different topics and skills. For the first time since the inception of the institute in 2004, the tiers are now running concurrently, allowing students in tiers one and two to witness the graduation of students from tier three.
The Honorable Peter Kenneth, assistant minister of the Kenyan Ministry of Co-operative Development and Marketing, was the keynote speaker at the event. In addition to congratulating the graduates on their hard work and dedication, he emphasized that the Ministry of Cooperatives is committed to supporting the SWAMI program. Following his address, Mr. Kenneth presented managers with certificates of designation as Certified SACCO Professional (CSP) and board members with certificates of participation. Catherine Ford, WOCCU's CDP Manager and administrator of the SWAMI scholarship program, presented all graduates with a program pin.
"Education is key to building a stronger credit union system," says Pete Crear, chief executive officer, WOCCU. "Part of WOCCU's mission is to be the platform for innovation and knowledge exchange. The Strathmore-WOCCU African Management Institute is an excellent example of what our work in this area can do to help credit unions around the world."
SWAMI was developed by WOCCU and Strathmore University of Nairobi to prepare senior SACCO management staff, aspiring managers and board members to handle the challenges SACCOs face in today's changing environment. The involvement of the Louisiana Credit Union League in the planning, implementation and supervision of the program has been critical to its success.
Key program funding comes from the United States Agency for International Development's Cooperative Development Program, CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, and the Canadian Co-operative Association. These grants, in addition to scholarships from the African American Credit Union Coalition, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, American Heritage Federal Credit Union, Southeast Regional Credit Union Schools, and the Louisiana Credit Union League, have enabled WOCCU and Strathmore to strengthen the human resources of the SACCO movement in order to build-up safe and sound financial institutions.
William Bonilla, WOCCU's project manager for IRnet/Kenya, spoke at the reception on behalf of WOCCU's chief operating officer, Brian Branch. "As many of you know, this event is a landmark for both WOCCU and Strathmore," said Bonilla. "Through the Strathmore-WOCCU African Management Institute, we have achieved an incredible partnership linking SACCO managers and board members with the expertise of SACCO skills and training with a network that spans across the continent.
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 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.