“The international activities are intended to encourage the growth of a sustainable financial system using the co-operative credit union model for the developing countries of South East Asia and the South Pacific. The aim is to alleviate poverty, improve education and promote gender equity by providing a sustainable model for affordable financial services and teaching the value of regular saving and the wise use of credit. The AMF plans to conduct these activities through the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU). AMF has agreed to a three-year international partnership program with ACCU and AMF plan to develop sustainable financial Credit Unions/Co-operatives in developing countries in Asia. ACCU presently delivers credit union development programs in Laos, Myanmar and Bhutan.
International Credit Union Development Programs
The credit union cooperative model aims to provide a structure for the provision of basic banking services and education in the value of regular saving and the wise use of credit. The AMF plans to provide financial support to activities conducted by the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU). The Asian Confederations of Credit Unions (ACCU) represents credit unions/co-operatives which have over 31 million members. ACCU presently delivers credit union development programs in Laos, Myanmar and Bhutan.
AMF has helped establish twenty-five (25) Savings and Credit Unions in Laos to provide affordable banking services and financial literacy skills to some of Asia’s poorest communities. There are 10,000 saving members, with 35% of these being women. The ACCU & AMF project aims to improve financial outcomes and to help lift Lao family’s standard of living, education and assist with SCU staff training programs, policies and processes to ensure a robust foundation for growth and development. The 2017-2020 goals are to establish an Association to represent SCU, provide certified training courses to SCU staff (using ACCU resources), establish a management network between all SCU’s in Lao, standardise Policy and procedures and promote financial inclusion. It is proposed to work closely with the Bank of Lao to achieve these goals.
ACCU & AMF in conjunction with the United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF twenty five new and existing savings and credit cooperatives have been formed or strengthened, with a total outreach of 50,000 savers, of whom at least 50% are women, and at least 50% are in rural areas. ACCU in cooperation with the Central Co-operative Society (CCS) and UNCDF has helped to deliver affordable savings and loan products to 25,000 low-income people in Myanmar – at least 64% are women and at least 95% are in rural areas. ACCU facilitates the establishment of financially sustainable Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SCCs) – absolute member-owned financial cooperatives, democratically controlled by its members, promoting thrift, and providing loans from the savings pooled by its members. The goal of the Project is to establish 35 savings and credit cooperatives with 25,000 of whom are women. As of December 31, 2017, the total number of female members is 15,155 out of 25,500 members or 59%. Out of the 263 Board of Directors, 63 are female or 23%. This is a reflection and manifestation of the culture in the country where women naturally defer to men for a leadership position. The Project initiated to have a policy for the allotment of at least 2 female Board of Directors in each SCC.
This project is in its infancy and is designed to enable rural communities in Bhutan to have access to affordable financial services to improve the quality of their lives by the promotion and development of the first credit cooperatives in Bhutan. The potential outreach for the project is 50,000 savers. In February 2018, with the support of ACCU & AMF seven participants from Bhutan including 5 members from the different Credit Cooperatives and 2 officials from the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives, left for Nepal to attend the Nepal Exposure 2018. This was a valuable learning experience for those attending this training opportunity.