Credit unions in Liberia don’t have the best reputation. So when the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Liberia and the Trust Savings Credit Union (TSCU) began work in Liberia’s Region Three, they knew they had to take a new approach.
TSCU enhanced their branding to differentiate their branches from other ad hoc savings clubs. Now, the TSCU branches in the region look more like banks both inside and out.
Tappita is located in a District with poor infrastructure. It was difficult for credit union members to access financial services at the TSCU headquarters in Ganta, especially during the long rainy season that makes the dirt roads impassable.
The residents invited WOCCU and TSCU officials into their community and requested a building to serve them and the surrounding communities. At a ceremony presided over by the city mayor, the city administration donated a plot of land and the members and general public pledged support in money and in kind. The women and youth helped to build the bricks, and the commissions from mobile money services were used to support construction. The new three-teller branch has not only improved ease of access to the community, but now has a more professional and trustworthy look and feel, distinguishing it from informal savings groups.
To further expand outreach and accessibility, TSCU is using satellite branches to be closer to communities. The institution has increased its outreach to five branches and ten points of service that serve over 90 institutions made up of VSLAs, Farmers associations, churches, credit unions, schools, savings clubs and even a business bureau. The outstanding loan portfolio is L$ 1,637,305 (USD 18,819). “Over 6000 Liberians, the majority of whom have never had a bank or credit union account, are now receiving affordable financial services closer to where they live,” says Patrick Muriki, Chief of Party of WOCCU Liberia.
TSCU is also working to introduce mobile money services, enabling members to save and/or withdraw funds directly from their phones. Currently, the institution’s members can check their balances and receive mini-statements through text messages.
About WOCCU Liberia
World Council of Credit Unions is implementing a UNCDF MicroLead program expanding access to savings and finance, and improving the livelihoods of poor and low-income households. Working in partnership with the Liberia Credit Union National Association (LCUNA), World Council is revitalizing Liberia’s credit union system.
Under the project, World Council established four regional credit unions, completed construction of four regional headquarters and renovated the headquarters of LCUNA that were destroyed during the war. All four credit unions are mobile money agents and have at least two points of services, which are able to register users and receive and distribute cash.
MicroLead is a UNCDF-managed global initiative supporting the development and roll-out of deposit services by regulated FSPs, seeking to respond to the rural vacuum of services. With the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation and the LIFT Fund in Myanmar, MicroLead works with a variety of FSPs and technical service providers to reach rural markets with demand-driven, responsibly priced products offered via alternative delivery channels such as rural agents, mobile phones, roving agents and point of sales devices. This is combined with financial education, so customers not only have access but can effectively use quality services.