Credit unions can provide saving accounts and loan facilities for poverty-stricken communities in developing countries which can allow poor people to save for emergency situations i.e. medical costs, or to borrow money to advance the lives of their families i.e. school fees. The ILCU Foundation will ensure that the credit union remains sustainable and secure for the members of the community to avail of its services for years to come. Below you will find stories of credit union members from across the globe.
Mr. Veiz Hoxha lives and works in Gramsh, a village of Lushnje in Albania. He emigrated to Greece and Italy at the beginning of the ‘90s, where he worked in the farming sector. The experience which he gained during these years gave Mr. Hoxha the confidence to start his own farm in Gramsh, where he subsequently moved to with his family.
Although he had the necessary skills to start a farm, he lacked the adequate capital and financial assistance. In 2011, he became a member of the credit union in Gramsh and asked them for their support. With his first micro-loan, he successfully enlarged his farm from two cows, which he initially had, to eight. Mr. Hoxha is now supporting his two sons who work with him on the farm. Due to his active engagement in rural development, Mr. Hoxha has recommended other farmers to join their local credit union, as an opportunity for obtaining competitive loans and access to savings opportunities.
Mr. Hoxha emphasizes “As a farmer, you understand that some things take time and that what you get out of something depends on what you put in. Not only does the credit union share that philosophy, but they also take pride and pleasure in seeing my little farm grow steadily.”
Profit earned from trading vegetables that she produced on her small farm has allowed widowed mum -of- four Shifine Mamo to send all of her children to school. And following the recent graduation of her son from technical college, she is determined that her other children will also finish their education.
45-year-old Shifine is a founder member of the village credit union established with support from the ILCU Foundation in Gerda Busa village, Ethiopia, eight years ago.
She has received several loans from the local credit union, and has used them to buy two half acre plots of land close to the village. She has bought a pump and other equipment to irrigate the crops, and now has two productive vegetable plots.
Shifine is now able to grow and sell several crops of onion, tomato and other vegetables, each year. Last year she borrowed 6,000 Ethiopian Birr (€ 250) to invest in farm improvements, and at her most recent harvest sold her produce for five times that amount.
‘It is hard to raise your children without their father, but it would have been much harder for me if I hadn’t been able to start this business with help from the credit union,’ she said. Shifine Mamo sells some of the produce that she grows to local traders, but uses it also for her family. ‘We now have a much better diet,’ she said.
Shifine is optimistic about the future, and believes that her role as a founding member of her local credit union can benefit others in her community. ‘It is pleasing to see others saving and borrowing from the credit union, and getting the chance to increase their income and make better lives for themselves,’ she adds.
Staff members from the ILCU Foundation met with Marion during a field visit, she shared her testimony about Sierra Leone Teachers’ Credit Union with them stating, “More women should be encouraged to join the credit union as a tool for their development. I’m a single parent as the children’s father is no longer with us. Through the support of the credit union I have educated three of my daughters up to university level; this would not have been possible without the credit union.
Furthermore, with the support of our credit union I now own a five bedroom house and my livelihood has been enhanced because of this. The blessings I have received through the credit union are numerous and I’m appealing to all women to join, a better tomorrow is there for you.”
Alpha Jallow is a 27 year old man who left school in 2007 and a after a frantic effort to secure a job, without success, he decided to try his luck and travel to the USA in search of employment opportunities. After two unsuccessful attempts to secure an American Visa, Alpha became frustrated with his life. Alpha was then introduced to the credit union by his sister in 2010, where she took a loan of GMD 2500 (€51) from Kombo East Youth Development Association Cooperative Credit Union (KEYDA) in the Gambia, to help to set up a hair salon business for Alpha in their village.
Alpha’s business grew encouragingly and he was in a position to repay his sister shortly after. Through his sister’s support he began to make regular savings in the credit union, and, in turn, he took out a number of loans to expand the business in 2012. Alpha continued to save regularly and has since opened a second business, a fashion shop, all with the financial support from KEYDA Credit Union. As Mr. Jallow puts it, “I don’t need to travel to Europe or US now to look for employment, I am self-employed and I’m happy and proud of my businesses. Thanks to my sister and the credit union I am now empowered financially.”