Unique and profound impact from day one
My first exposure to the Women’s Mentorship Program (WMP) was in 2008 when Tisdale Credit Union hosted a credit union manager from Ghana. Our Ghanaian guest was a wonderful ambassador for her country and the cooperative system. Her visit became a highlight for the credit union, community, and my family as we all benefited from the rewarding cultural experience.
I knew from this moment that the WMP is unique because of its profound impact on all those involved. When an opportunity arose in 2016 to help facilitate classroom learning, I leaped at the chance to become more involved with the program.
From the first day of the training, the WMP participants form a sisterhood based on their abundant energy and willingness to engage in all aspects of the Program. They are like sponges eager to soak in knowledge and the cultural nuances of their Canadian experience. The focus on best practices in Canadian credit union management is paramount, but there is always room for singing, dancing, and sharing in the joy of working together. The participants also share best practices from their country in areas of community involvement, grassroots economic development, and their great passion for the power of the cooperative system.
My most memorable moment
Over the next five years, there were many remarkable moments of intense knowledge-gathering, leadership skill development, and the sheer joy of sharing and growing together in a global network of cooperative leaders. However, one of my most special moments was travelling to Malawi and Uganda, where I reconnected with WMP alumni. It was a delight to witness the participants in their home credit unions implementing learnings from Canada and thriving with growing confidence. The alumni, in turn, use their skills to mentor and guide the next generation of women leaders, and in this way, co-operative leadership grows exponentially.
The WMP has earned its place as a most important, effective program for enhancing cooperative and community development worldwide. Lasting relationships are forged in Canada to create a supportive global environment for life-long learning and continual leadership development. Years after the Canadian experience, the alumni communicate with each other, credit union hosts, and facilitators to celebrate milestones, acknowledge achievements, and offer inspiration. A WhatsApp note never fails to brighten my day and put a smile on my face.
Working with the Women’s Mentorship Program team has been my honour, and I will always cherish the beautiful memories of each cohort and participant. Thank you to CDF Canada for creating and maintaining the Women’s Mentorship Program all these years, and congratulations on 75 years of cooperative development.