Sierra Leone


Our work in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located in West Africa. It had a thriving cooperative movement prior to its decade long civil war, which ended in 2002. In 2010, there were only ten credit unions left with a total membership of 2,000. In 2013 the ILCU Foundation, in partnership with the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) and the Credit Union Association of Ghana (CUA), set out to revitalise the credit union movement and expand financial services to thousands of communities in Sierra Leone. This project began successfully and progressed; however, in early 2014 the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history led to its suspension and the Technical Advisor who was overseeing the project had to leave the country. In November 2015 Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free and the ILCU Foundation was in a position to commence its work on re-building sustainable credit unions.

Credit Union staff in their office in Upper Bambara Credit Union

ILCU Foundation & Irish Aid - working together to make a difference:

In September 2015, the project was reactivated and to ensure the successful delivery of the project a full-time country manager has been employed to oversee the work. The project has engaged with 20 credit unions from across the West African nation and while the project was suspended credit unions have reported an increase in membership and assets whilst continuing to support their members needs.

Marion Fornah Member of Sierra Leone Teachers’ Credit Union

Key Activities and Progress in 2017:

  • 31 credit unions
  • 6,828 credit union members
  • membership increased by 24.2%
  • training courses were conducted for both credit union and apex personnel and volunteers in areas including governance and management
  • credit union members were trained in the area of financial literacy to help improve their understanding and usage of financial services
  • equipment and renovations were conducted in credit unions with some credit unions supplied with new counters, safes, desks etc
  • education and awareness programmes were run on both TV and radio, and signboards were produced to market the credit union

Meet the Members:

In 2017 the credit union movement in Sierra Leone held its inaugural parade to celebrate International Credit Union Day in October

At a glance

Population: 7.6 million

GNI per capita: $1,240

Expected yrs of schooling: 9.8 yrs

% living on < €1 a day: 53%

Life expectancy: 52.2 yrs

Type of loan issued: Agricultural, commercial, educational, housing and medical.