Women Empowering Women in Africa and Asia

by Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada Vetted since 2016
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.


Gaining the confidence to reach for the stars

Violet returned back from the Women's Mentorship Program (WMP) to find her SACCO (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization) in turmoil, the CEO was let go and Violet was asked to step in as the acting General Manager. Violet felt strongly that if it had not been for her attending the WMP she would not have been confident enough to say yes to this acting role. The program made her believe in herself and this gave her courage to step into this position.

Upon her return she started to implement what she had learned. She did this gradually, weaving the presentations into the morning meetings leading to a gradual integration of her learnings. The one program that she was able to implement was the business incremental savings program, where she has hired an officer to collect savings door to door from the business community in the area. The main branch at Muki SACCO is currently collecting from around 150 businesses and they have been averaging around Ksh.100,000 per day. The business people love it since they feel that no amount is too small to save and has helped them make savings a priority. 

Your support means that more women like Violet can gain the confidence to take on more roles and change more lives in their local communities.


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Organization Information

Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Website: http:/​/​cdfcanada.coop/​
Project Leader:
Gonzalo Rodriguez
Fundraising Officer
Ottawa, ON Canada
$9,677 raised of $11,000 goal
95 donations
$1,323 to go
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