WOCCU-Afghanistan Project Taking Off
Madison, WI— The World Council of Credit
Inc.'s (WOCCU) new $1.1 million dollar
Afghanistan project enters its first stages of
implementation as a credit union pilot
WOCCU-Afghanistan project—the Pilot Financing
Microfinance Investment and Support Facility for
Afghanistan—is funded by the World Bank, through
MISFA, the Microfinance Investment Facility for
Afghanistan, based out of Kabul.
Edgar Comeros, newly appointed WOCCU-
project manager, joins the project at a key
moment—as of May 20, WOCCU had signed a lease for
the first credit union office, to be located in
the town of Mazar-I-Shariff, and expects to sign
a lease for a second credit union office
shortly. The Project calls for the creation of
three credit unions in eighteen months, to be
located in Mazar-I-Shariff, Pul-I-Khumrie and
Hirat. The locations were chosen due to their
economies, with busy public markets, factories,
agriculture, access by car or plane and
government leaders who are progressive and
willing to support such an activity.
Comeros, a veteran in the Philippine credit
and cooperative movement, is now confronted with
these challenges. Comeros explained,"
Cooperatives have been so good to me," in his
more than 30 years of development work and he
continued by saying, "if you have a blessing, you
have a mission."
Despite high hope, this project will not be
easy. There is currently no legislation, no
defined regulatory body, laws or any framework
for credit unions to begin. Curtis Slover, WOCCU
product development and technical services
manager explained, "We will work towards these
issues with government bodies to introduce
legislation. In the meantime we will incorporate
the proposed draft legislation WOCCU supports
into project credit union bylaws." Slover
continued, "Project credit union bylaws will be
signed and officially stamped by the governor of
the Mazar-I-Shariff region, which adds legitimacy
to the operating framework and sets boundaries
"WOCCU will draft into the credit union
with particular emphasis on regulations
addressing capital adequacy, maximum loan size as
a percentage of capital, and loan loss
provisioning," noted Slover.
Slover explained, "Afghanistan will be one of
more difficult development projects—related to
finding educated staff members for the project.
There has been no formal educational system in
the country since the beginning of the Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan, close to twenty years
ago. Basic primary educated individuals, with
less than a third grade education are difficult
to locate." "We are even looking for Afghanistan
refugees in Pakistan to fill the roles of credit
union manager, accountants and tellers—people who
have basic math experience and can type."
It will not be simple creating a smooth and
efficient credit union structure in a country
ravaged by war, extreme poverty, violence and
crumbling infrastructure. But WOCCU's experience
in other developing countries like Lao People's
Democratic Republic, Uzbekistan, Rwanda and
others has shown that it is possible, and is very
important. Credit unions play an important role
in rebuilding countries like Afghanistan,
creating hope where it is rare.
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.