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WOCCU TIFI Chief Leads Cooperative Professionals’ Discussion of COVID-19 Financial and Business Challenges

WOCCU TIFI Chief of Party Susy Cheston (large panel) moderated the discussion
WOCCU TIFI Chief of Party Susy Cheston (large panel) moderated the discussion

Susy Cheston, Chief of Party for WOCCU’s Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion (TIFI) Project, hosted an October 8 breakout session for the NCBA CLUSA 2020 Cooperative IMPACT Conference focused on pandemic-related financial and business challenges that lie ahead for cooperatives, and the strategies necessary for a successful recovery.   

The “Business and Member Financial Recovery and Resilience” session also featured an examination of how best to adapt existing strategies and to employ new and innovative business practices that will be required in the post COVID-19 business environment.

Professionals from two WOCCU member organizations, the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA) and Sicredi, were among the panelists who shared concerns, questions and solutions related to the pandemic.

“While we have been facing numerous disruptions in past two decades, none probably can be compared to COVID-19, political instability and Ebola,” said ACCOSCA CEO George Ombado. “In the context of current pandemic, COVID-19 has adversely affected our credit union business model in Africa, and ACCOSCA is taking this as an opportunity to relook at our approach.”

On behalf of its member national credit union associations, ACCOSCA is examining:

  • Lending Frameworks: Including the importance of promoting capacity to pay as a key basis for loan approval, as compared to a share-based framework.
  • Regulator Engagement: ACCOSCA has doubled its advocacy efforts by constantly updating regulators on the impact their regulations are having on credit unions during crisis. ACCOSCA has worked with WOCCU Advocacy to develop best practices.
  • Cooperative Principles and Serving Members: Particularly the value of cooperation among
    financial cooperatives.

Liege Siqueira, Marketing Analyst for Sicredi Campos Gerais PR/SP, explained how her credit union relied on social media to promote internet and mobile banking technology members could use to make transactions, so they didn’t have to visit physical branch locations during the height of the pandemic.

“It worked because we were able to increase member participation by 22% in using the internet for their financial transactions,” said Siqueira.  

Other panelists also explained how such digital innovations were key to overcoming the pandemic and moving on once it is over.

“It’s not a time for just hunkering down, it’s a time for growth and innovation,” said Cheston.

The Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion is a project under USAID’s Cooperative Development Program.