CDF Canada, formerly CCA, started its journey in Asia in the 1970’s. The aim was to advocate the cooperative union’s philosophy and principles. We spoke with Ranjith Hettiarachchi, Chief of Technical Team, Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), who worked with CDF Canada in its early years and recalled the work undertaken in Asia.
How it All Began
In the early years, ACCU general manager was seconded by the World Council of Credit Unions from 1971 to 1982. But later, WOCCU requested to have ACCU’s own paid General Manager. Due to limited funding, ACCU sought assistance from CCA (now CDF Canada), and CDF Canada agreed to provide 1/3 of the General manager’s salary (US$ 12.000 per year).
This support for GM salary lasted until 1989 and helped ACCU expand. CDF Canada later appointed an Asian manager to work closely with ACCU to help credit union development and increase focus on countries such as the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
Timeline of our Journey
Our focus from 1971 to 1981 was on the promotion of cooperative unions’ philosophy and principles. ACCU’s CEO traveled from country to country and met potential young cooperative leaders, and provided orientation. ACCU and CDF Canada worked together to promote cooperatives. In the initial years we focused on leadership development and promoted the National federations in Indonesia; the Philippines; Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka. From 1993 to 2003, we expanded our scope to provide professional training to credit unions. And finally, from 2004 to 2013, quality assurance in the cooperatives became the focal point.
The first interaction of CCA in Sri Lanka was in 1984 when a team member visited for a fact-finding mission to develop a project. At that time SANASA federation had only one staff with an asset of Rs. 35,000. CCA approved C$ 72,000 projects for the central finance facility loan fund for agriculture financing. Subsequently, from 1986 to 1989, CCA and SANASA developed a partnership on the expansion of the credit unions with a funding of C$ 300,000. As a result of the projects, more than 5,000 credit unions with 600,000 members came to be, in addition to initiating the SANASA Training Institute in Kagalle.
In 1989 to 1994, the project SRICODAP on capacity building was started where CDF Canada posted an advisor to Sri Lanka to oversee its implementation, which was extended to 2000.
Another significant initiative supported by CCA, was the creation of the Asian Women Cooperative Forum (AWCF) based in the Philippines, in 1987. To expand the benefits of the cooperative and empower women, CDF Canada helped with the activities of AWCF for ten years.
The Impact Continues
CDF Canada and ACCU have been partners since 1983. Over the years, CDF Canada’s support has extended to strengthening ACCU’s capacity to provide training programs, including:
50 years, ACCU is incredibly strong, representing 48.8 million individual members from 32,120 credit unions in 23 countries in Asia, with at least 19 million members belonging to low-income and disadvantaged populations.
CDF Canada’s support to enhance ACCU’s member service in terms of professionalization and quality assurance continues today. In fact, the program has evolved into an accreditation system for credit unions’ seal of excellence. Additionally, and because of the CDF Canada’s intervention, the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), now a member of ACCU, was established, with a network of at least 800 credit unions with 3 million members.
Here’s to many more years of impact through partnership!