In 2018, I was selected by CDF to participate in the Women Mentorship Program (WMP); this was like a dream.
Given my background, I lacked confidence and self-esteem, and with no exposure. I was brought up in a culture where men are the master of the game, and even as a manager, I always carried that with me. I always had internal disruptions, an inner voice telling me how I was less than men in always. This affected my leadership ability and my contributions in discussions, and I was always reluctant to take on any leadership role.
During the training, women were given an opportunity to share experiences and talk about their Credit Unions. It was great to learn about the diversity of Credit Unions (SACCOs) in Africa and other parts of the world.
Throughout classroom training/discussion, I went through a thorough transforming training/ discussion in key governance areas, strengthening operational, professional, and leadership skills, empowering and inspiring us as women leaders to appreciate our positions and go back as enabled women and as transformation agents in our families, workplaces and communities.
I was taken to Interior Savings Credit Union in British Columbia for placement and hands-on experience on how Credit Unions in Canada run their day-to-day operations. I had sessions with departmental heads and the CEO for one on one sessions, and I attended a strategic planning meeting with the Board, which was a rich learning experience for me. I was exposed to best practices in governance, leadership skills, marketing, branding, credit management, financial reporting, risk management, human resource management, performance management, communication skills, information technology, tools and policy development. It was a rich experience. At Interior Savings, the staff was very friendly, welcoming and willing to support me not only during my placement but even after I returned to my Credit Union. The CEO empowered me with leadership and governance skills, maintaining a good relationship between Board and management and succession planning. After ten days, I went back to Ottawa informed, equipped and empowered to return to my country as a change agent.
During the ten days of my mentorship at Interior Savings, I was hosted in the home of one of the staff of the Credit Union, Heidi Miller, and I learnt a lot from her. I observed how work-life balance is really important. I went home determined to do all I could to improve my life.
When we returned to Ottawa, we were allowed to share our experiences from our placements and commit to our plan of action once we returned to our countries.
The three top things I committed to implementing:
The WMP left me yearning for opportunities of promoting the cause by attracting women to leadership positions. I was able to talk to and encourage them to take on leadership skills. At the next Board election, the number of women on the Board increased from two to five. This was through empowerment, motivation and encouragement. This was a big achievement.
In 2019, my colleague Dorothy and I were given an opportunity to go back to CDF as a facilitator in training to gain training skills and go back to Uganda to implement the CDF WMP Echo program in my country with the objective of reaching out to more women for a greater impact.