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Volunteer Coaching Programme, 2024

The first Volunteer Coaching Programme of 2024 took place in February. The volunteers, Mary Peters – Health Services Staff Credit Union; James Liston – Capital Credit Union; Brendan Jenkins – Clones Credit Union; and Sabrina Peyton, Credit Union Consultant travelled to Sierra Leone. The group spent two weeks in-country sharing their credit union expertise, knowledge, and skills with their credit union peers to build the capacity of the credit union staff and directors. The volunteers worked in pairs during their visits to the credit unions and worked with multiple credit unions during their time in Sierra Leone. During their first week, Mary and James, accompanied by Aminata Jalloh, Monitoring Officer, travelled to Bomabali Credit Union and Tonkolili Credit Union. While Sabrina and Brendan, accompanied by Abu J Musa, Monitoring Officer, travelled to Nyandeyama Credit Union. They reviewed the operations and governance by working alongside staff and board members. During their time, they also went out into the community and met credit union members to understand how the credit unions have impacted the members lives and their families’ lives.

Sabrina and Brendan, accompanied by Alhassan Sesay, Monitoring Officer, spent the second week with Bo Teacher’s Credit Union and Mount Aureol Credit Union. While working with the staff at Bo Teacher’s CU, the manager took Sabrina and Brendan out into the community to meet some members who work at the local market and see how the credit union has helped them grow their businesses. At the same time, Mary and James’ worked with Port Loko Credit Union and the Local Food Sellers Credit Union, to support staff and the board and discussed ways they can support their credit union. The volunteers also ran a workshop for credit union staff and boards focusing on Commitment and Growth and the key areas identified from the visits. They shared lessons among participants about the challenges of credit unions and exchanged ideas further to strengthen the credit union movement in the country. Towards the end of their visit, the volunteers travelled to meet the Ambassador of Ireland to Sierra Leone, Aidan Fitzpatrick, and First Secretary, Emma McLoughlin. They shared their experiences volunteering in Sierra Leone and what they have learned from the credit unions there. There was also an opportunity for the volunteers, Solomon Mwongyere and Peter Banting, to meet with representatives from the Armed Forces and the Bank of Sierra Leone. Both groups are in the process of trying to establish work-based credit unions in their respective industries.

Reflecting on his time in Sierra Leone, James Liston from Capital Credit Union said, “It is an amazing opportunity to be able to visit credit unions in Sierra Leone and try to support them based on our experiences. They are operating in a very different space to Ireland, but there are a lot of things in common, such as focusing on the members and supporting the local community. It has given me a newfound appreciation for the Irish Credit Union movement and how it grew from our own humble beginnings. I hope that with a bit of support, credit unions in Sierra Leone can reach the same heights.

Learn more about our volunteer programmes here.