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We’re proud to say that 140 credit unions from the Irish credit union movement donated over €422,000 to our work in 2021. In addition credit union members and the public donated over €32,000 via fundraising initiatives including the inaugural CU Challenge. These generous donations enabled the Foundation to support our dedicated local partners to develop and strengthen their 193 credit unions with over 181,000 members in our three core countries – Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

Donated by Irish Credit Unions
Credit Unions Supported
Members Included
Irish Credit Unions Who Donated

Highlights from the year include:

  • The Irish Aid co-funded ‘Financial Inclusion for Resilience in Sierra Leone’ (FIRSL) was completed in September. Over the three-year period, the number of members increased by nearly 100% meaning more people now have access to affordable financial services and products – notably more than 60% of members in Sierra Leone are women.
  • In November, a new three-year project commenced. Step Up will look to build on the progress of FIRSL by continuing to strengthen the credit union movement at the micro, meso and macro levels while ensuring that the credit union ethos remains central to all operations. 
  • A four-year programme supported by the UN agency International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) came to a close in March. This programme changed the landscape of SACCOs in Ethiopia by supporting the introduction of prudential regulation, enabling the establishment of the SACCO federations to develop the movement, and facilitating the development of knowledge resources such as toolkits, technical guides, manuals and training courses.
  • Two regional SACCO federations (i.e. Leagues) began operations in 2021. The Amhara SACCO Federation (with a small team of five) is providing technical support to SACCO Unions and delivering a Central Financing Facility in order to support lending and livelihood development in rural areas and towns.
  • The Foundation continued its long running relationship with Self Help Africa (SHA) in supporting their three-year project strengthening four SACCO unions . Since its commencement it has supplied training and essential supports towards equipping the staff and volunteers with the tools necessary to grow and provide more efficient services to its members. To date the project has increased the number of beneficiaries by more than 13,000, with one year left in the current project.
  • Remote support was provided on a quarterly basis to the Compliance Officers in The Gambia, to strengthen their capacity, and a mentoring programme was put in place to provide technical support to ACCOSCA (African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations) staff throughout the year.


the amount donated in 2021 from almost 140 Irish credit unions to support the Foundation’s work.


the number of credit unions in developing countries who have benefitted from support programmes through the Foundation’s work.


credit union members in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia who are benefitting from our expertise. 


donated by credit union members and through the CU Challenge.


the amount received from institutional donors such as IFAD and Irish Aid in 2021.

There are currently 1.7 billion people in the world without access to any form of financial services.

This means they have no means to securely save their money, no access to ethical loans, no financial education and as a result, are at risk of becoming indebted to high-interest loans.

Most of these people are living in low-income developing countries, where careful financial management is necessary to support the families and businesses in the communities they reside, to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from livelihood shocks and stresses. 

Access to basic financial products and services can transform a community. It can unlock opportunities for education, employment, entrepreneurship and can provide a safety net to manage their finances and absorb financial shock in times of crisis.

The Foundation plays an important and key role in educating people and assisting in the development of credit union movements internationally, providing safe and ethical financial solutions for communities and working towards the goal of achieving financial inclusion for all

A Special Thank You To

  • Credit unions and their members, for their donations and continued support.
  • The Irish League of Credit Unions for bearing staff, fundraising and administrative costs. To the ILCU Board, management and staff, thank you for your continuous support, and for your help on various projects and aspects of our work.
  • The various Chapters that allowed us to make presentations at their respective meetings.
  • CUMA for allowing us to promote our work at their Autumn conference.
  • The corporates who generously supported our work: Moore Ireland and ECCU.
  • The Foundation acknowledges the funding received from Irish Aid and IFAD.