World Council set to ramp up operations in Liberia as Ebola wanes
MADISON, WI (November 11, 2014) — In response to Liberia’s increased virulence of the Ebola virus since July, World Council of Credit Unions scaled back its model credit union building project by restricting project staff activities and movement within the West African country. With outside project oversight, World Council’s deputy team leader has continued to administer daily operations.
With funds from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), World Council entered Liberia in 2013 to rapidly expand savings and improve the livelihoods of poor and low-income households throughout the country by developing four regional model credit unions and strengthening the national association.
World Council, in collaboration with the Liberian Credit Union National Association, has sponsored Ebola prevention training for staff and credit union members. Members have continually received educational materials and information about the virus through dialogue, flyers, radio campaigns and community engagement activities. However, fear has caused many members to restrict their movements. Consequently, project activities have been postponed, including nationwide savings and member education campaigns, as well as credit union governance trainings.
“World Council commits itself to long-term credit union development,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “This would not be possible without the efforts of our staff and credit union members, which is why we take measures necessary to protect their health.”
World Council also recently made a contribution to UNICEF, which is on the ground working to prevent the situation from worsening. Credit unions and individuals wanting to support their efforts should direct their donations to UNICEF directly.
“Recent reports show a reduction in the number of people infected with Ebola,” said Peter Graves, World Council SVP for technical services. “Our expectation is to ramp up the project as soon as we receive the go-ahead from health officials. Although project activities have been hampered, Liberian credit unions have remained open and World Council staff members continue to remain actively involved in helping credit union members.”
Credit unions in Liberia were decimated by the nation’s civil wars over the last 20 years. The UNCDF project, funded by the MasterCard Foundation through their MicroLead Program, has helped build regional credit unions to serve as models for other savings groups that desire to become formalized, regulated credit unions.
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.