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International Outlook

Kenyan Women Among 12 Recipients of Global Women’s Leadership Network Scholarships



By Samwel Mwangi

Kenyan women continue to make strides in leadership and professional development as two women from the country are among the 12 recipients of the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) scholarships for 2023.

The program, which is open to women in the Credit Union industry globally, officially inducted the recipients into its network, providing them with opportunities for professional development, networking, and skill diversification.

Evelyn Olunja and Jane Ndambiri, both from Kenya, were awarded scholarships to attend the year-long virtual engagement program. The program will focus on leadership growth, and the scholars will have access to eLeaderHUB by eLeadership Academy, semi-annual EVOLVE Workshops, monthly live webinars and micro-trainings, as well as the Women in Global Development Leadership Forum (WILD Network), among other events. The scholarship will enable the recipients to expand their skill sets and grow their leadership abilities through a global network.

Additionally, Naddian Abraham-Damier and Mercy Tumukunde from Dominica and Uganda, respectively, will attend the in-person engagement program. They will attend the World Credit Union Conference (WCUC) in Vancouver, Canada, in July, co-hosted by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA). The event will include travel, hotel accommodation, and a stipend.

Lena Giakoumopoulos, the GWLN Director, noted that the organization was excited to offer a larger number of scholarships in 2023, and 12 scholars were selected from a record number of more than 60 applicants. She added that the new synergies have proven beneficial for the growth of the scholarship program and the organization’s effort to engage more women through the global credit union system.

The scholarships and empowerment grants are made possible through funding from annual memberships and corporate donations from Co-op Solutions, CUNA Mutual Group, PSCU, and the Susan Adams Scholarship Fund supported by One AZ Credit Union. Since 2009, GWLN has awarded 100 scholarships to women from 30 countries.

The GWLN scholarship program has been instrumental in promoting gender equity in the credit union industry by supporting women’s professional growth and leadership. The scholarship program is not only an opportunity for the recipients to develop professionally, but also for the credit union industry to support gender equity, a crucial factor in promoting diversity, inclusivity, and organizational success.

The recognition of Kenyan women in the 2023 GWLN scholarship program is a testament to their dedication to professional growth and leadership in the credit union industry. The program offers them a platform to network, diversify their skills, and learn from other professionals globally. The program is expected to boost the recipients’ careers and position them for more significant leadership roles, ultimately promoting gender equity in the industry.

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International Outlook

Digitalization tops priorities for SACCOs globally



SACCOs around the world are keen to embrace the digitalization of services to members, with the findings of a global survey showing 71 per cent of associations ranking this as a top priority. 

The survey conducted by the World Council of Credit Unions and published in the World Council’s 2021 Statistical Report shows that national associations on every continent, except North America, consider digitalization a top priority.

“Digitalization in the financial sector has become a trend at the market level. It generates competitiveness, and the generational analysis demands getting in on modern digital systems.”

The report provides sets of new data obtained from national-level Credit Union associations in more than 40 countries and six regions of the world. 

Digitalization, growth in membership and regulatory reform emerged as the top priorities for the SACCOs around the world. 

66 per cent of the respondents ranked growth in membership and assets as a top priority. 

“European, African and Asian respondent credit union associations scored this as a top priority, with that number dropping to 50 per cent or less for countries in the western hemisphere.”

Regulatory reform was the top priority for respondent credit union associations in North America (100 per cent) and the Caribbean (80 per cent), with 50 per cent of European and 40 per cent of African credit unions also identifying it as key to their strategic priorities. 

Further, the Survey identified the global economic environment, technology and regulation as areas of risk. 

Australia listed this as a top concern with 82 per cent of credit union associations in Europe, 60 per cent in Africa and 57 per cent in Asia.

“In the present economic condition, the salaries of credit union personnel are very poor compared to other sectors. This is why credit unions do not have as skilled or talented personnel. But skilled personnel is one of the important key factors to sustain in this competitive market,” said the Co-operative Credit Union League of Bangladesh in the report.

Technology is a large area of concern in Africa ( 100 per cent), Latin America (67 per cent) and Asia (57 per cent). 

“The response to technological advances is not always adequate, mainly due to the purchasing power of co-operatives, as well as a marked aversion to change, which can lead to significant backwardness in the level of competition in the market.”

Half of the respondent credit union associations in North America and Europe listed regulation as a top risk, along with 40 per cent in Caribbean countries.

The survey shows that there are about 44 million SACCO members in Africa, drawn from 41,067 Societies. Kenya has 9.9 million members, the highest in Africa.

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International Outlook

World’s Top Co-operatives joint turnover falls to $2.17 trillion



By Samwel Mwangi

The joint turnover of the world’s top 300 co-operatives fell to US$2.17 trillion from US$2.18 trillion, according to the latest edition of the World Co-operative Monitor. 

Released by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), the monitor lists the top 300 co-operatives and mutuals based on turnover and sector rankings, employment data, and includes a chapter on the challenges and opportunities brought by digitisation.

In its 11th edition, the report is produced by ICA with the scientific and technical support of the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse).

The 2022 edition is based on 2020 financial data. Ranked in the first place by turnover is Groupe Crédit Agricole from France ($88.97bn), followed by retailer REWE Group from Germany ($77.93bn), the Cooperative Financial Network from Germany (BVR) ($58.02bn), agricultural co-op Zen-Noh from Japan ($57.69bn), and ACDLEC Leclerc from France ($54.83bn).

Most enterprises in the Top 300 by turnover are producer co-operatives, mainly representing agricultural and retailers’ co-operatives (126, to which is added one producer/consumer), followed by mutuals (84) and consumer/user co-operatives (71).

11 of the top 300 are non-co-operatives controlled by co-operatives, while only five are worker co-operatives and two are multi-stakeholder.

The results are similar in the Top 300 based on turnover over GDP per capita, but there are more consumer/user co-operatives than mutuals, respectively 84 and 67 organisations. The countries with the most enterprises in the top are the USA (71), France (42), Germany (31) and Japan (22).

The co-operative topping the ranking based on turnover over the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (Iffco) from India. A producer co-operative, Iffco is followed by another Indian business, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation; financial co-op Groupe Crédit Agricole; healthcare co-op Sistema Unimed from Brazil; REWE Group from Germany.

In the Top 300 by turnover over GDP per capita, the agriculture sector is predominant with 101 organisations. The insurance sector has 85 enterprises in the top 300 while the wholesale and retail trade has 57. The financial service sector is more prominent in this ranking with 41 enterprises compared to 26 enterprises in the Top 300 by turnover.

The monitor also explores the impact of digitisation, particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis. The findings are based on a survey of co-ops in 27 countries, carried out by the ICA’s International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank.

Respondents to the survey said they are aware of the importance of digital tools that cut across different functions of corporate life and recognise that “something fundamental has changed in the way co-operatives are managed”. About one in ten co-operatives consider themselves to be poorly digitalised.

Eight out of ten co-operatives interviewed said it was essential to use digital tools to sell goods and services online and manage relationships with customers and suppliers. A quarter of the respondents consider these only “quite important”.

The key areas for co-operatives regarding the use of digital tools are IT system security (70 per cent), management software (48 per cent), e-commerce (41 per cent), cloud computing and remote management of services and infrastructure (41 per cent), and communication and web and social media content creation (37 per cent).

The survey found all co-operatives have activated online modes of participation in their general meetings. The report notes that although digital tools have ample potential in engaging members unable to attend the meetings in person, they have also shown limitations in engaging certain categories of members unfamiliar with the use of technologies. Over half of the co-operatives surveyed also see the potential of digital tools to involve members in the co-creation of services and goods and to promote interaction among members.

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International Outlook

WOCCU to host global meeting in Scotland



By Macharia Stephen

The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the global trade association for SACCOs, will host a global premier event in SACCOs in July.

WOCCU conference 2022, an annual meeting on topical issues in the global SACCO sector, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland will be the first physical conference since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Credit Union executives from 60 countries are expected to attend the conference, which will focus on leadership, cybersecurity, digital technologies and the future of financial services.

The conference, to be attended by more than 1500 executives, will showcase a week-long celebration and networking to honor World Council of Credit Unions’ 50th anniversary.

Formed in 1971, WOCCU is a trade association and development platform for credit unions.

“World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions’ financial performance and increase their outreach.”

Conference attendees will hear from industry experts on cybersecurity, fintech, digital transition, advocacy, membership and, diversity and inclusion.

The extensive WOCCU conference program will include 28 concurring breakout sessions, workshop, keynote sessions and a solution center geared towards solving today’s challenges.

“Our agenda is packed with educational opportunities designed to ensure you excel in the credit union industry. Throughout the program, networking opportunities are available to meet your global peers.”

Additional activities such as Day Tours, Dinner with Strangers and an exclusive evening at Stirling Castle are available for attendees and people participating in the guest program.

“World Council is committed to presenting an interactive event that encourages collaboration and active networking. Conference attendees will be able to connect with their global peers through one-on-one video chats, guided networking sessions, topical discussion forums, and artificial intelligence generated match-making.”

The 2021 WOCCU conference was originally set to be held in Glasgow but was hosted virtually because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“World Council is actively monitoring and following the COVID-19 recommendations of the World Health Organization. We are in contact with event conference sites and local public health officials about proactive measures being taken to protect you,” WOCCU said in a statement.

World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) holds professional conferences and meetings to enable its members to receive continuing education, build professional networks, and discover new products and services for professional use.

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