MADISON, Wis. (5/30/13)--Thanks to a US$2.45 million, four-year grant to rapidly expand savings and improve livelihoods of poor and low-income households through credit unions in Liberia, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is working with its new member organization, the Liberia Credit Union National Association (LCUNA), to revitalize the credit union system there.
Liberia Credit Union National Association staff, shown here, and the World Council of Credit Unions will work to revitalize the credit union system in Liberia through a MicroLead program funded by the United Nations Capital Development Fund. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
WOCCU recently received the grant from the United Nations Capital Development Fund through its MicroLead program. It is WOCCU's first credit union development in the West African country.
"Liberia is celebrating its 10th consecutive year of peace and is transitioning from a period of stabilization to transformation," said WOCCU President/CEO Brian Branch. "Credit unions are a vital component to Liberia's economic and democratic revitalization as they have become a primary means of rural communities rebuilding their agricultural production and market trade."
The program will establish new credit union savings products, build credit union capacity and strengthen LCUNA's ability to establish and maintain a network of safe and sound credit unions in Liberia. WOCCU also will work with LCUNA to establish four regional credit unions as models for the national credit union system.
Today, LCUNA has 300 affiliated credit unions serving a combined 36,000 members. Before the first of two civil wars from 1989 to 2003, Liberia had 71 credit unions with US$10 million in savings and 20,000 members. Of the pre-war population of 2.8 million, more than 200,000 people lost their lives and 1.8 million were displaced.
Many credit unions lost member deposits and records during the conflicts. Since then, the volunteer-run institutions have received little training in modern standards or marketing strategies, said WOCCU.
Liberia's population today totals four million people. Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said the country can become a middle-income country by 2030. WOCCU said its program supports Liberia's hopes for financial inclusion to achieve that goal.