Co-operators discussed financial inclusion at SACCO Leaders Forum 2014

24 Mar 2014

Chief executives and managers of African credit and saving co-operatives met in Zambia in March to discuss on various issues affecting credit unions at the 5th Saving and Credit Union (SACCO) Leaders Forum. The event, jointly organisaed by the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA) and the National Association of Savings and Credit Unions of Zambia (NASCU), gathered 156 participants from across 17 countries.

Delegates from credit unions were joined by development practitioners and academics, who looked at how to promote financial inclusion using the co-operative enterprise model. They touched upon the need to promote financial regulatory reforms in SACCOs, while also examining examples of effective co-operative management.

Speaking at the forum, George Ombado, the executive director of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA), encouraged managers to run their credit unions in an efficient way to help build confidence in the sector and promote the saving culture. He also advised managers to engage with young people, to secure the movement’s future.

Also present at the event, Robert Sichinga, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia, said the co-operative model helped to enhance financial inclusion by extending access to financial services.

Delegates also looked at ways in which SACCOs could embrace technology to increase financial inclusion. Many women and young people across Africa continue to be unbanked and SACCOs could play an important role in addressing this situation, credit union leaders agreed. They assessed ways in which SACCOs could work together to brand and promote the credit unions advantage in Africa.

Another issue that came out in the discussion was the relationship between credit unions and the role of national bodies in exchanging experience and building new partnerships. Delegates agreed that credit unions needed to make themselves more attractive in order to cope with competition from commercial banks.

Prior to the forum, ACCOSCA held three concurrent Workshops on Alternative Finance for Cooperatives, Liquidity Management, and Credit Risk Management. The workshops explored some of the challenges faced by SACCOs, which had been mentioned at last year’s Annual SACO meeting.

Photo: delegates taking part in a workshop at the 5th SACCO Leaders Forum in Zambia.

 

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