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Supporting the credit union movement in Africa

The credit union movement began with a simple idea — that by pooling savings and making loans to neighbors and co-workers, people could achieve a better standard of living. This movement has existed for over a hundred years and spans continents across the globe.

In October, I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the power of the credit union movement in Africa. I was invited to represent PSCU for ClimbAfrica, a fundraising campaign supporting the new African Confederation of Cooperative Associations (ACCOSCA) Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. The ClimbAfrica event included a climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a community outreach project in Salima, Malawi, industry workshops and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. In addition to my participation, PSCU made a corporate donation toward the initiative.

The creation of the ACCOSCA Academy will enable employees, board members, regulators and community members of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs, which are African credit unions) to participate in a wide variety of financial education and training. The Academy will increase financial service competencies at all levels, prepare leaders and introduce new ideas and effective problem-solving strategies — all to benefit members.

The workshops focused on the state of the financial industry in the U.S., Africa and beyond. George Ombado, Executive Director of ACCOSCA, shared some of the difficulties SACCOs are facing — with a key concern being the ability to compete with larger financial institutions. Unlike in the U.S., there are few fintech credit union service organizations (CUSOs) in Africa for SAACOs to partner with for scalability. Some of my African counterparts would share,”Why don’t we have an organization like PSCU here? We could offer online banking and other digital services if we had an organization like that to partner with.” As a PSCU employee, I was proud to see and hear firsthand what our organization provides to credit unions. It was also fascinating to discover similar challenges that financial insitutions face across the globe, such as access to digital banking and succession planning.

 

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