Well here I am in Halifax airport after my long journey from Ghana, Africa. Arriving to an airport surrounded by snow was a welcoming site. I find at this time I am flooded with a huge mixed bag of emotions. Although we spent a full day in London, getting training on how to adapt to the shift in coming back, it still is hard to describe.
I am happy that I am almost home, and although I am in Halifax, I can feel the atmosphere that Maritime people express. The warm smiles, the casual conversations with their friends and their relaxing type of attitude. It is a welcoming feeling!
I cannot discount however the void I feel by leaving behind my co- workers in Africa. The bonds I have formed with these people in the last little while has been such a rewarding experience. I know that the advice myself and my colleague from Ireland provided to the credit unions were very useful and will impact them in many ways. Its the personal connections that I will miss, as we certainly formed great relationships.
My good friend Abraham, a new manager of Wa Community Credit Union, reminds me of myself when I first started with the credit union. He is facing the same challenges as I faced back in 1999. The system in Ghana is about 20 years back from where the credit union system is in Canada, so as a coach we have to remember this when making recommendations. When he advised me that he liked the recommendation I made that the board consider having Internet in the office so he can communicate with other managers, partners and continue assistance from me, it reminded me that our recommendations seem trivial but have huge impacts. This is a guy that has to bring in his cell phone to charge at the office because there is no electricity where he stays. They have very unique challenges such as delinquency levels of 20 percent. In an environment where it should be less than 5 percent, they lack the training, policies and procedures to manage this portfolio. I am confident that the material we left behind, the training we suggested will help him tremendously.
The boards of all the credit unions however were engaging and were very serious about our recommendations. They truly have the people who bank with the credit union in their mind as they try new innovative things to strengthen their operations. They do a wonderful job in providing the poorest of people an opportunity to save and borrow for micro financing loans. Loans as small as $50 for seeds, were granted providing people with a small start to lift them from poverty. They spent huge amounts of time educating their members on money management, business, and other training. It was quite amazing to be a part of this.
So many stories will be told over the next week, as now I have my Internet back. Once I get into work I will upload some pictures. Right now, I am pleased to be on my last leg home, and look forward to seeing everyone and doing numerous presentations on this experience and how it ties to leadership, development, and social responsibility.
Welcome to the Canadian Co-operative Association's international development blog devoted to the Uganda/Malawi and Ghana coaching programs taking place in January 2011. With volunteers working on the frontline of development, experience the missions through their photos, words and videos.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Stewart Oke - Uganda
This morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day…the rain has stopped and everything smells fresh and green. That is the one thing about Uganda…it is very lush and productive. The land is fertile and produces good crops as well as adequate feed for the cattle, goats, and other livestock.
Today was our final day with the Kagamba SACCO. The road conditions had improved substantially with only a few soft spots remaining. That is the beauty of clay…it dries and hardens quite quickly!!
Our meeting with the SACCO went well and our report was well received by everyone. The board graciously considered our recommendations and asked some excellent questions to clarify how they could accomplish some of the recommendations. It was rewarding to know that our hard work was appreciated.
Friday will be our last day in Africa and a very busy day as well. We have a meeting scheduled in the Morning with the Canadian Consulate here in Kampala and then we will spend the afternoon in de-brief meetings with the UCA. From there we will head for the airport and catch the red-eye to London for the CCA de-brief. And then HOME!!!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
For the next three days we will be working with Danwell Credit Union. It has one main branch and two agencies as they are called here, one in Kasaam and one in Boaman both of which we will be visiting tomorrow. We were at the main branch today visiting with the staff and working with the Manageress Mrs. Philomina Sarpong. Danwell has an assets base of $900,000.00 and is home to 2400 active and dormant members. They have 9 staff members and have complimented their lending products with a Micro Finance department as well. Here in Ghana they have savings boxes, which are strong boxes that are given to members to save money in, piggy banks have nothing on these! There is only one set of keys for the box and they are held at the Credit Unions. The members on a daily basis put money in to the boxes and once the money has gone in the members are unable to access the savings again until the Credit Union comes to open the box for them. The funds are then brought to the Credit Union and deposited into the members account. Danwell has 600 of these savings boxes out in the community. It is a great program and seems to work well for both members and the Credit Union.
|Seth Koduah working in his sandal shop|