Credit unions throughout Liberia will soon be able to help improve the livelihood of poor and low-income households thanks to a $2.45 million grant awarded to the World Council of Credit Unions.
The four-year grant was made available through the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s MicroLead program.
Working with its new member organization, the Liberia Credit Union National Association, the World Council said it will establish new credit union savings products, build credit union capacity and strengthen LCUNA's ability to establish and maintain a network of safe and sound credit unions in Liberia.
Four regional credit unions will also be established to serve as models for the national credit union system. There are currently 300 credit unions affiliated with LCUNA, serving 36,000 total members, according to the World Council.
"Liberia is celebrating its 10th consecutive year of peace and is transitioning from a period of stabilization to transformation," said Brian Branch, World Council president/CEO. "Credit unions are a vital component to Liberia's economic and democratic revitalization as they have become a primary means of rural communities rebuilding their agricultural production and market trade."
Prior to the first of two civil wars from 1989 to 2003, Liberia had 71 credit unions with $10 million in savings and 20,000 members, according to the World Council. More than 200,000 people lost their lives and as many as 1.8 million were displaced in a pre-war population of 2.8 million.
Many credit unions also lost member deposits and records during the conflicts, and the volunteer-run institutions have since received little training in modern standards or marketing strategies, the World Council said.
Today, four million people live in Liberia, a country rich with natural resources including minerals, agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The World Council said Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said she is confident the country can become a middle-income country by 2030.
The World Council said its program supports Liberia's hopes for financial inclusion to achieve this goal.