Women Empowering Women in Africa and Asia

by Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada Vetted since 2016
Bettyrose and Alexa
Bettyrose and Alexa

Women credit union managers from Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya have completed their placements at credit unions across Canada as part of the eighteenth running of the CDF Canada's annual Women's Mentorship Program.

They have gathered valuable takeaways from the twelve host credit unions that mentored them through their day-to-day operations, policies and services.

 "The combination of classroom learning and credit union placements immerses participants in Canada's credit union culture, providing them with ideas for products, services and management approaches they can apply to their own credit unions back home," says Chima, CDF Canada project officer.

For Alexa, Member Relations Manager at Central 1 Credit Union, the program held extra meaning. "My family were hosts to a Ghanaian credit union manager over a dozen years ago," she says. "My old schoolmates will remember the experience denoted by the wooden bangle I wore, everyday, for years after her visit. It is true what they say about this program deeply affecting the hosts to these inspiring women credit union leaders." 

"Fast forward to my own career in the credit union system, and I had the opportunity to help support this incredible program once more which this time brought a courageous, driven, intelligent leader from Kenya by the name of Bettyrose into our lives. The impact she had on me and everyone she interacted with will be something we carry with us for a very long time. We accomplished quite a bit over ten intensive days - a women-in-tech event, the Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada  Co-operative Congress, and a wide range of learning - from marketing the co-op difference to people leadership to member relations. And there was Betty's first snow experience."

Reflecting on her time in Canada, Bettyrose says she feels she has come into her own with renewed confidence as a leader, and is inspired by the possibilities for further growth she now sees.  

"We have been trained to be effective leaders, manage change and resolve conflicts," says Bettyrose. "We fly out of Canada determined to offer our best to our communities. We are now convinced that co-operatives can indeed make the world a better place to live, and that we have a role to play taking it upon ourselves to go make a difference. We will plan and execute that which we have learned as the professionals we have been made. We commit to share the knowledge we have gained and also mentor others."

 "Mentoring is a fantastic opportunity for Canadian hosts to learn about credit unions in other countries," says Chima, "and to know that by sharing their workplace they have enriched the life of a peer woman credit union leader from a developing country. They are living out the 6th co-operative principle, co-operation among co-operatives, on the global stage."  

Since 2002, 239 women leaders from 21 countries in Africa and Asia have improved their knowledge and skills on a full range of issues related to day-to-day operations of financial co-operatives, built networks and increased their confidence as leaders. Funding for the program is provided by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, by the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada, as well as by Canadian credit unions who open their doors, share best practices and welcome fellow co-operators.

WMP picture
WMP picture

Since taking part in CDF Canada’s Women’s Mentorship Program, Obenewaa (right) has improved practices at the small credit union she manages in Kumasi, Ghana. The number of dormant accounts has been lowered by one-third and delinquent loans are down 60%.

CDF Canada’s Women's Mentorship Program is an annual training program that provides women credit union managers of overseas financial co-operatives with a unique opportunity for professional development.

It is also a mutual learning opportunity for Canadians and international co-operators. Program participants are matched up with a credit union in Canada for 10 days and become immersed in the credit union and community. They receive general leadership training and learn the ins and outs of day-to-day operations. Canadian credit union managers volunteer their time, training materials, transportation and accommodation for the overseas participants.

In 2018, the program will welcome a total of 16 women from countries including Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and the Philippines.  

Your continuing support means that more women like Obenewaa, and the 16 others joining us this year, can gain the confidence to take on more roles and change more lives in their local communities.

WMP Echo-Mongolia
WMP Echo-Mongolia

This past November was an exciting month for the Women’s Mentorship Echo Program!  Through your support, 12 woman credit union managers from across Mongolia (5 urban, 7 rural) joined a CDF Canada volunteer faciliator to benefit from credit union best practices and learn from their peers. 

The ‘Echo’ program helps strengthen the credit union system in Mongolia while providing the same professional development opportunity as the Canada program for those who would otherwise be ineligible due to language barriers and distance.

The program was broken into 8 days of classroom training and 1.5 days of credit union placements. The classroom training focused its content on technical skills, leadership, knowledge transfer and professional development in such areas as: lending best practices, potential new products and services, marketing, strategic and operational planning, enterprise risk management, human resource management, financial management and introducing change.

During their field placements the participants received mentorship from Ulaanbaatar based credit co-operatives selected by MOCU (Mongolian Confederation of Credit Unions) to reinforce the classroom learning. Participants observed day to day operations, loan portfolio management, savings program design, member mobilization, risk management approaches, etc.

By focussing efforts on more than just the few women who can attend the Canadian program, especially since 80% of the credit union sector in Mongolia is led by women, and developing the training capacity of the credit union’s apex organizations, a ‘critical mass’ of managers that have the same level of knowledge and motivation can be created that should result in positive forward movement, a stronger credit union and greater access to stable financial services for Mongolian citizens.

Specific take-aways from the 8-day Echo program include:

  • 3 of the participating credit unions are actively supporting the agricultural co-operatives involved in CDF Canada’s INVEST project in Mongolia:  http://cdfcanada.coop/our-projects/invest-co-op-mongolia/
  • Each participant developed a 3-year business plan for their credit unions
  • MOCU has agreed to offer assistance to participants, ensuring their business plans are implemented at the credit unions

 Thank you for making this exciting opportunity possible!


Josephine (L) with credit union coaches
Josephine (L) with credit union coaches

Below is a note that we recently received from Josephine, a credit union manager from Uganda, who took part in our 2017 Women's Mentorship Program.  Josephine was paired with Servus Credit Union, based in Alberta, Canada.

I would like to take this opportunity and thank the organisers and the supporters of this program. What an experience to an African woman in leadership!

All our Coaches and Trainers had a wealth of knowledge which they so willingly shared. Their life experiences were motivating as they are similar to life back home. They give us a reason to carry on. 

The family of Servus Credit Union right from the President & CEO who shared with me some of his success values like hardwork & persistence, being ready for opportunities, being pro-active, learning to forgive oneself, willing to learn, family values (recognising the spouse's contribution) and key factors in lending which are character and capacity. These insights could not come at a better time. Thank you very much.

To the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility - thank you for sharing that as Cooperatives, we should always answer the "why?" question. Unless we know why we are here (to serve humanity and change lives to a better living), then our existence has little or no use.

To the Morniville branch manager - thank you for sharing your cooperative experiences while in Ghana. Coming from another African country, it made sense as we operate almost in a similar environment.

My host and coach & your family - thank you soooo much. You ensured that I was comfortable and my learning program addressed my needs. Not forgetting staff at your branch. They made my learning a joy as they were willing to share.

To the Westlock branch manager - thank you for organising my visit to your sister's family farm. Riding in a combine harvester for the first time and seeing how it "harvested" wheat was another lesson altogether.   As my family engages in farming, visiting this farm was enriching in that I learnt best practices (mechanisation) practically and how this contributes to yield maximisation as compared to how much time we invest and human labour. Not forgetting your company to Jasper National Park. I’m indebted to you.

The knowledge I have acquired is going to be a great resource to Lubaga North Sacco. Our story is going to change especially in the areas of governance, savings mobilisation, member recruitment & retaining and much more.

Personally, I have been empowered to be the best I can be, embrace change, be open to ideas and always yearn for more. I’m confident that I will serve my cooperative, community and family in a better way. Thank you CCA. Thank you Servus family.  Thank you donors.


Manager- Lubaga North Sacco


Emily’s trip to Canada for the Women's Mentorship Program (WMP) came at the right time when she was at a crossroads in her career. After working 10 years at Safaricom SACCO in Kenya, she was on the verge of leaving.  The WMP experience changed her and her attitude and she continues on with her SACCO today.

Through the program's classroom training, networking with colleagues from other SACCOs and working at a Canadian credit union, she realized that there were other, better ways of doing things. She learned that she was putting across ideas that were not well thought out or with the right research in place. She learned from her placement at Vancity, in British Columbia, about rolling out products in phases in order not to overwhelm the team.

Building on her learning back home in Kenya, Emily has made excellent progress with the short term goals that she identified, including the implementation of the 'Each One, Teach One' model of teaching personal financial management she learned while working at Vancity. She was very strategic about how she rolled out the teachings that she learned at the WMP to the various teams to help them in their roles. She had weekly training sessions with staff at 7:00am which were very well attended by majority of staff showing a willingness to listen and be engaged in the learning. 

Thanks to you and your support of the program, more women like Emily are benefitting from the program's teachings, networking and impact.


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Organization Information

Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Website: http:/​/​cdfcanada.coop/​
Twitter: @CDFCanada
Project Leader:
David Dern
Fundraising Officer
Ottawa, ON Canada
Have a concern about Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada? Contact GlobalGiving.
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