The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will be resuming its efforts to rebuild the credit union sector in Liberia, which has recently been declared free of Ebola. The project is funded through the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDP) with the Liberian Credit Union National Association (LCUNA) acting as WOCCU’s local partner.
“We are quite pleased to restart a project that will bring access to financial services to thousands of Liberians over the next two years,” said Peter Graves, World Council senior vice president for technical services. “Although we had to place the project on hold, LCUNA and its credit union members never stopped their efforts to bring in new members and provide loans to help Liberians thwart Ebola’s destructive impact.”
WOCCU started engaging in Liberia in the 1970s helping to set up the country’s credit union sector. With two civil wars spanning over 14 years, credit unions were severely damaged and many of them lost member deposits and records. Prior to the two conflicts the country had 71 credit unions with 20,000 members and USD $10m in savings.
In 2013 WOCCU was granted USD $2.45m by UNCDP to help revitalise the credit union sector. Due to the Ebola virus in the state, WOCCU had to withdraw its project manager from the country but chief of party Patrick Muriuki has now returned to Liberia to continue his work.
“Liberians are a tough lot; they’ve been through years of civil war. No Ebola virus is going to stop them from improving their lives, and credit unions are central to this effort,” said Mr Muriuki.
LCUNA board chair Saye Biyie, added: “This project is our heart. It represents the difference – literally – between life and death for many Liberians. We are grateful to UNCDF and World Council on their decision to re-start the project.”
Hermann Messan, micro lead programme specialist at UNCDF said that credit unions could help promote financial inclusion in Liberia, particularly in rural areas.
“UNCDF has been active in this country for many years – even in the midst of the Ebola crisis – and this stakeholders’ workshop is the best mechanism to resume the project and get all parties realigned towards the targets and the objective of bringing positive change in the rural communities,” he said.