They’ve taught us how to spend our money in a way that will benefit us in the long run, no matter we what we’re doing. I am proud of who I am now.
Hassan Alimamy Kargbo, 31, had dreams of becoming a professional football player. When he couldn’t continue to university in 2012, he thought his talent on the pitch would lead to a big break. That opportunity never came.
A credit union member encouraged him to start saving with the local credit union, Conakry Dee Cooperative Credit Union, but Kargbo said it took him a long time to heed this advice. That friend never stopped with the encouragement and reminders of the benefits of being in the credit union. After attending a general meeting he joined the local credit union with a savings of 50,000 leones. He started attending meetings. Within the first four months, Kargbo received a loan of one million leones. He didn’t just get the loan; he was coached on paying it back. Within six months of receiving his loan, Kargbo paid it back in full while saving with the credit union. Kargbo says that the credit union taught his community how to save.
Empowered by multiple rounds of borrowing for small projects, Kargbo set his sights on something more significant. He traded his football dream for business – to become a motorcycle taxi (okada) operator. However, his savings at the credit union did not add up to the 10 million leones he needed to buy a bike. He approached the credit union and attended more financial literacy classes to qualify for the loan amount. After several months Kargbo finally took possession of his new motorbike and all the necessary documents to become a certified motorcycle operator.
Kargbo had two years to pay back, but he had fully paid back the loan in one year. By becoming a member of the Conakry Dee Credit Union, Kargbo has transformed his life. He is one of eight credit union members who now own and operate a commercial motorcycle in the community.
We all need an ally at some point in our lives. When we find one, it can make all the difference in the world. Hassan’s story is one of the many good news stories from the Credit Union movement in Sierra Leone.