Thursday, 23 January 2014

We're Going to Malawi

I arrived in Ottawa to reconnect with some old friends and meet lots of new ones. The CCA had an orientation day planned before we headed to the airport to board our various flights to Africa. I thought my adventure to Mongolia was long but I guess that was just to prepare me for my flight to Malawi. After an extremely long journey, we landed in Lilongwe – an exhausting 40 hours later. Luckily, I am able to sleep on airplanes so time flew by and I was surprisingly refreshed when I checked into the hotel.  Let’s just say I did not make a lot of friends on the plane.

The Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Co-Operatives (MUSCCO) is our local partner in Malawi. Their slogan is “Spearheading Financial Independence. They would compare to Central 1 in Ontario. We were provided with an orientation before we headed off to our first Savings &Credit Co-Operative (SACCO). My partner and I were teamed up with Ezekiel, the Business Development Coordinator for MUSCCO, who will be acting as our driver, guide and source of valuable information. Ezekiel shared with us that the movement is lacking government support which is causing challenges to the SACCOs.  

The biggest challenge at the moment is the fact that the government is withholding payment deductions from the civil servants to the SACCOs. This has been happening for at least four months and is resulting in high loan delinquency, low liquidity, membership closures and losses for the year. I could not imagine how Canadian credit unions would cope if they stopped receiving payroll deductions. 

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