18 May 2015
The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is resuming its credit union building project in Liberia. The project aims to give 40,000 Liberians access to financial services.
Due to the Ebola virus in the state, WOCCU had to withdraw its project manager from the country. For over a year Liberia has been experiencing one of the largest outbreaks of Ebola in history. There are currently no known cases of Ebola in Liberia and, as a result, WOCCU chief of party Patrick Muriuki has now returned to Liberia to continue his work.
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, WOCCU 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."
LCUNA board chair Saye Biyie, added: “This project is our heart," said Biyie. "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."
WOCCU has been engaged in Liberia since the 1970s when it helped create the country’s credit union sector. The two civil wars that spanned over 14 years left credit unions severely damaged. The project was designed to help rebuild the sector by developing four regional credit unions to serve as models for the rest of the sector.
Representatives from UNCDF and LCUNA met recently in Monrovia to discuss the next steps for the project. Hermann Messan, micro lead programme specialist at UNCDF, also highlighted the important role credit unions could play in financial inclusion, particularly in rural areas.
He said: “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.”
Patrick Muriuki added: “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”.
Picture: WOCCU, UNCDF and LCUNA representatives watch as a member of In God We Trust Multi-Purpose Credit Union makes a deposit in Paynesville, Liberia.