Largest Crowd Ever At SACCU Meeting In Africa

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More than 300 people from 19 counties participated in the annual Savings and Credit Cooperative Association Africa (SACCA) Congress here. It was the largest attendance in the history of the meeting.

The meeting, aimed at discussing issues affecting credit union communities across Africa, was co-sponsored by the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU), Canada Cooperative Association (CCA), the Irish Credit Union Foundation, and the Swaziland Association of Savings and Credit Cooperatives.

"Attendance clearly demonstrates the increasing importance of credit unions in the microfinance industry in Africa," noted Erick Sile, WOCCU technical officer for Africa and a key organizer for the event. "Not only did we have credit union staff and volunteers eager to learn about ways to turn their institutions into more efficient and viable financial institutions, but we also observed an increasing number of government and central bank officials seeking best practices that will help them regulate credit unions in their countries."

The King of Swaziland, His Majesty Mswati III was a special guest at the conference, as was the prime minister. In his opening speech, the King welcomed participants to his country and encouraged the SACCOs to continue to reach out to the underserved. He spoke of the threat HIV/AIDS poses to Africa and asked everyone involved in the cooperative movement to act as an agent to fight against the spread of this deadly disease. He also praised the credit union movement for the role it plays in the Swaziland economy by reaching out to people in the rural areas and offering financial services to the vast majority of Swazi who are not served by commercial banks.

Topics at this year's Congress focused on the importance of strategic planning, managers' responsibilities, financial disciplines, approaches to lending, business planning, asset liability management, savings mobilization, and marketing and the importance of technology. In addition, there were case studies on Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Canada and Ireland.

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