First West Credit Union said it will donate $50,000 to help alleviate global poverty and support the development of credit unions in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
The donation will be made to the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada's Build a Better World campaign, according to the Langley, British Columbia-based First West, which has $7.1 billion in assets under administration.
First West’s contribution is part of a $150,000 commitment to the program over three years, the credit union said. The CDF initiative endeavors to raise $12 million over four years.
In past years, First West leaders have traveled to Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Botswana to participate in the credit union coaching program and a women's leadership forum, sharing information and learning from cooperatives overseas, First West said.
Additionally, Launi Skinner, CEO of First West, was recently joined by five other credit union CEOs on the CDF's Journey Out of Poverty tour to Cambodia. There, they spent nine days learning first-hand about poverty alleviation through cooperatives in developing countries.
“The work international credit unions and cooperatives undertake in countries around the world is literally life changing,” Skinner said. “For First West to be part of that life change is such a privilege, whether it's leading through our financial support or mentoring support.”
Over the past 50 years, the CDF said it has worked in partnership with the Canadian Co-operative Association, an organization that First West has supported for over a decade, contributing over $305,000 to international development efforts.
Complementing this financial support is First West's commitment to other CCA initiatives including its Women's Mentorship Program.
This year, First West will be hosting Martha Kwaw, branch manageress of Shama Community Co-operative Credit Union in Ghana for ten days. During this time, Kwaw will gain insight on loan applications and delinquency, savings mobilization, marketing and financial reporting that will make SHACCU more self-reliant, according to First West.
The Women's Mentorship Program began in 2002 after the CCA noted that there was a lack of professional development for women in African and Asia, First West. A plan was made to connect credit union women leaders in developing countries with Canadian credit union knowledge and expertise.
This year, 16 women from eight countries will be participating in the program, bringing the total number of participants to 176 women from 18 countries since the program's inception.