Liberia’s rural communities bring services to the unbanked
  • April 26, 2016

The MicroLead programme's partners are expanding credit and savings services throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Trust Savings Credit Union (TSCU) Credit Union are increasing outreach to rural areas. Their services are in such high demand, that rural communities are banding together to help open new credit union branches.

Tappita is located in a part of Liberia with extremely poor transportation and communications infrastructure. This has made it difficult for members to access financial services at the TSCU headquarters in nearby Ganta, especially during the long rainy season that makes the dirt roads impassable.

So the residents of Tappita invited WOCCU and TSCU officials into their community. The head of the credit union association of Nimba County lent them temporary premises. At a ceremony presided over by the mayor, the city’s administration donated a plot of land, and the members and general public pledged support in money and in-kind services. Women and youth helped build the bricks and the commissions from mobile money services were used to support construction.

UNCDF MicroLead’s Programme Manager, Pamela Eser, said: “MicroLead is UNCDF’s flagship programme working with financial service providers to reach the last mile (rural and women).  In Liberia, by supporting best practice credit union creation by WOCCU, MicroLead demonstrates its ability to provide financial services throughout the hard-to-reach countryside.”

This is the case in Tappita, one of six districts in its county. The three-teller branch now serves nearby credit union members. No longer required to travel to Ganta, members receive the full range of credit union services at the Tappita branch.

But Tappita isn’t alone. TSCU has also been granted a parcel of land in Foya, Lofa County by the commissioner of Foya District. A joint team of WOCCU, Liberia Credit Union National Association and TSCU formally held a groundbreaking ceremony there, which initiated the construction of its Foya facility. Meanwhile, temporary offices have been opened in both Saclepea (Nimba) and Foya (Lofa) to enable members to carry out their day-to-day transactions.

Do the unbanked want formal financial services? In Liberia’s rural heartland, the answer clearly is yes.