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Sierra Leone

About Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located in West Africa. It had a thriving cooperative movement prior to its decade long civil war, which ended in 2002. In 2009, there were only ten credit unions left with a total membership of 2,000. In 2013 the Foundation, in partnership with the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) and the Credit Union Association of Ghana (CUA), set out to revitalise the credit union movement and expand financial services to thousands of people in communities in Sierra Leone. This project began successfully and progressed; however, in early 2014 the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history led to its suspension and the Technical Advisor who was overseeing the project had to leave the country. In November 2015 Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free and we were in a position to commence our work on re-building sustainable credit unions.


ILCUF Ltd, Freetown

The Foundation team in Sierra Leone, ILCUF Ltd, is headed by Solomon Mwongyere, and are based on Fort Street. The team is comprised of monitoring officers, a training officer, financial literacy officer, IT officer and finance and admin officers. The team supports the credit unions directly and also provides support to NaCCUA – www.naccuasl.org

The Foundation & Irish Aid - Working Together To Make A Difference

In 2018 the Foundation was awarded funding from Irish Aid for a three year project to support the development of credit unions, and build on the work undertaken to date. The Financial Inclusion for Resilience (FIRSL) project aims to improve resilience of 13,000 poor and disadvantaged people and their families (72,800 people in total) in Sierra Leone. In year one, the project supported the development of credit unions, the capacity of their apex body, the National Cooperative Credit Unions Association (NaCCUA), and the credit union regulatory authorities.


The Foundation was awarded further funding from Irish Aid in 2021 to continue its support to develop the credit union movement in Sierra Leone. Working with local staff the Foundation the three-year project, Step-Up began in November 2021. The aim of Step-Up, is to continue to build on the work that has already been undertaken and support credit unions at the grassroots and the national apex body, NaCCUA.

2022 Highlights

  • The FIRSL programme met or exceeded 18 of its 21 overall targets and partially achieved 3 targets, which were directly impacted by COVID-19
  • The first credit union conference was held in Freetown, with guest speaker, Emmanuel Darko, and coincided with the launch of NaCCUA’s (the national credit union apex body) website – www.naccuasl.org
  • A new more accessible membership passbook, using recognisable icons, was designed in late 2020, for illiterate and innumerate members, the pilot ‘oral passbook’ project took place over four months and an evaluation was undertaken
  • Financial audits were undertaken in all credit unions by local accounting firms or by the Department of Cooperatives to ensure sound financial management and transparency for members
  • 60 credit union leaders (Board members) participated in basic IT training. The aim of the training was to help build their understanding of computers and their capacity to use MIS to effectively perform their governance roles as leaders within their credit unions
  • 796 people received financial literary training in 2021, 88% of whom were women
  • A poverty assessment in 2021 found that 90% of credit union members on entry were either poor or vulnerable middle poor, illustrating the valuable role they play in achieving financial inclusion for all
  • A credit union steering committee was established comprising key stakeholders across government and civil society to act as a forum for critical issues of importance to the credit union movement
  • George Ombado, Executive Director, ACCOSCA, visited Freetown for a series of meetings and workshops
    with key stakeholders in the credit union movement to discuss the role of credit unions in contributions to financial inclusion in Sierra Leone