Credit unions build synergy for growth

…as ACCOSCA holds historic conference in Accra

The West African Block of the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Association (ACCOSCA), has held its first-ever conference in Accra.

The conference, held between March 12 and 14, was on the theme ‘Regional integration for cooperative sustainable growth’, with participants drawn from five West African countries: namely, Sierra-Leone, The Gambia, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana.

Chief Executive Officer of ACCOSCA, George Ombado said: “This meeting is about charting our future, recommitting and rededicating ourselves to the growth, development and sustainability of our SACCOs movement in the ECOWAS region of sub-Saharan Africa; and therefore seeks to bring our regional countries to a cooperative equilibrium”.

Mr. Ombado challenged member-associations to maximise opportunities using efficient and expedient means to re-engineer SACCOS for greater success and sustainability. This, he added, will enable families and individuals to be empowered and realise their educational, economic and social goals.

He reiterated that opportunities exist for credit unions in Ghana to be strengthened, adding: “We want to promote good corporate governance; we want to use innovation to encourage efficiency so that other countries can learn from it to improve their systems.

“Ghana can share and also borrow from other countries in the region, to build a robust credit union operation and make it an integral part of development. The youth will get employment from this sector if we handle it well.”

ACCOSCA is the apex body for all credit unions in Africa, and the event in Accra was to allow for networking and brainstorming so as to propel growth, development and sustainability of its West African block.

It is a non-governmental organisation of credit cooperative institutions, representing Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) on the continent. Formed in 1968, it operates as a pan-African confederation of National Associations for Savings and Credit Cooperatives.

The CEO of Credit Union Association (CUA) Ghana, Nana Agyepong, speaking on the topic ‘understanding the cooperative structure and the role of national bodies’, said it is imperative for national associations to dedicate more resources to capacity building for its members.

“The nation stands to benefit from stronger credit unions, because we are sharing experiences across West Africa and then coming out with new strategies on the way to move forward. We believe that credit unions in Africa have some common characteristics, so we have to move together as one entity,” he said.

He added: “There are three phases of development in credit union operation, and Ghana is currently at phase-two where regulations are in place and all activities are being monitored; and we are hoping to get to phase-three, wherein we have the integrated credit union system and have all of them linked together as one unit on a common platform”.

A credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative – controlled by its members and operated on the principle of people helping people, providing its members credit at competitive rates, as well as other financial services.