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Cameroon CUs membership quadruples
MADISON, Wis. (3/31/11)--Cameroon’s credit union movement has taken off, growing from 78,000 credit union members in 1993 to more than four times that figure by 2010. With 212 credit unions, a combined membership of 336,187 people and $240 million (all amounts are in U.S. dollars) in assets, the Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League (CamCCUL) has a long history of success in the Central African country of Cameroon, said the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Adherence to credit union philosophy and a continued dedication to member service has helped the small movement prosper.
Click to view larger image Praxedes Banseka of the Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League visits with World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Pete Crear on a recent visit to WOCCU headquarters.
“Our smallest credit union has $4,000 in assets, and our largest has $34 million,” said Praxedes Banseka, a CamCCUL field supervisor, on a recent visit to WOCCU headquarters in Madison, Wis. “We don’t care how much money a credit union has, as long as it’s serving its members well.” CamCCUL was founded in 1968 and worked closely with WOCCU in the 1980s and 1990s to implement several programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The programs provided technical assistance to CamCCUL that furthered its institutional and management development, created a central liquidity facility, started a small farmer production credit program, expanded credit unions to new areas and provided the first computerized systems to Cameroon’s movement. WOCCU’s programs in Cameroon ended in 1994. CamCCUL became a direct WOCCU member in 2007. "The Cameroonian credit union system represents one of the great success stories in WOCCU’s 40 years,” said David Grace, WOCCU senior vice president of association services. “Based on long-term and intensive development programs in the 1980s and early 1990s, a strong foundation was established. We’ve seen this in many other countries, and that positions credit unions for strong membership growth in subsequent years.”
Click to view larger image More than 5,000 help celebrate International Credit Union Day in Cameroon. Cameroon’s credit union movement has taken off, growing from 78,000 credit union members in 1993 to more than four times as many members by 2010 (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions).
Cameroon has a history of staging some of the world’s largest International Credit Union Day celebrations, turning out more than 5,000 people to march in streets of local communities with thousands more observing. Collaborative radio and TV ads, cell phone programs and shared branching services have helped the movement grow. Cameroon’s credit unions also face many challenges, including competition from banks and informal lending groups. While 95% of the credit unions that are computerized share a common platform operated by CamCCUL, many small credit unions still are not computerized. “We don’t have the equipment or the infrastructure in place to provide Internet access in many areas,” Banseka said. Banseka, the daughter of a Cameroon movement founder and a 13-year credit union veteran herself, is studying in the U.S. as part of the U.S. Department of States Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. The 10-month-long program takes future leaders from foreign countries and provides experiences in the U.S. During this time, Baneska has completed an internship at Gabriels Community CU in Lansing, Mich., and plans to complete another internship in Minneapolis before returning to Cameroon.
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