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BIACCU and membership development in society

May 20, 2010, 1:15 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The Banjul International Airport Co-Operative Credit Union, BIACCU, among several credit unions in the country has shown maturity and signs of forging ahead without hindrance.

BIACCU membership continues to rise, and members are encouraged to add more money to their savings. The credit union is willing to help members develop themselves and the society in which they live; to enable members become responsible with healthy savings to help solve their immediate problems. Society & Development was there during the 7th Annual General Meeting of the BIACCU held at the old airport building, and now reports on the deliberations.

Sulayman Jabang, the vice-chairperson of BIACCU chaired the AGM. In his remarks to welcome participants, he said they hope to improve on their membership and their relationship with NACCUG. He expressed his sincere thanks to members for a successful year. "It was only possible with members' contributions towards our credit union," he said.

Baboucarr Fatty, the chairperson of BIACCU, said he felt honoured to attend the meeting, which he described as a platform to give members the opportunity to review and scrutinise the activities of their trustees for the year under review.

"It shall also enable the board to share with members, stakeholders and invited personnel a comprehensive record of activities undertaken, achievements registered and challenges encountered during the year under review, and to map out a way forward."

"I would like to challenge all of you to critically, but sincerely discuss all the reports that will be laid before you," he added.

Baboucarr Fatty said BIACCU, since its inception, contributed immensely towards improving the lives of its members by providing them with loans and other financial services.

"Therefore the theme chosen for this year's AGM, 'Your Commitment To BIACCU IS Key To Your Future,' is quite fitting," he said.

Baboucarr Fatty, the chairman, continued, "the membership of the credit union is the bedrock of our movement. The more the membership increases, with healthy savings, the greater the opportunities for members to access loans. Our number grew from 722 to 865, representing a growth rate of 20% during the year under review," he announced.

Talking about savings, Mr. Fatty said its very unique in the union's activities, adding that the primary objective of establishing a credit union is to mobilise savings from members. The survival, therefore, of any credit union is pinned on healthy savings of its members.

"Members saving grew from D 6,120,607 in 2008 to D 7,386,643 in 2009, thus representing a growth rate of 21%," he said.

He praised the board and management for their dedication and commitment, pointing out that they met regularly to discuss and formulate healthy policies, and build up sound management practices all geared towards making their beloved credit union worthy of emulation.

Mr. Fatty added that the credit union showed very strong and impressive performance during the year under review, as manifested by the achievements shown in the books. "They did not relent in anyway in serving the movement with diligence, loyalty and professionalism," he said about the board and management.

Talking about loans, Mr. Fatty said they give priority to the issuing of loans to members. Members, he added, are urged to save more so as to access the desired amount of loan, as well as to enhance their capability to collect loans and execute intended projects.

"The committee continues to appraise loans for projects, education, medical expenses, buildings etc. Loans disbursed during the year, from 1st January to 31st December 2009 amounted to D 4,921,000.00 compared to D 4,143,000 in 2008.  Above all, the board of governors have recommended 8% payment as dividend on members' savings based on the annual surplus. I thank you all for your support to our credit union," he declared.

Saihou Danso, representing the Registrar of Co-operatives, assured members of the government's support through its line department of Agriculture, under which is the Agribusiness Technical Services Unit. He said unlike companies and associate organisations registered under the companies law or under any other legal body, credit unions provide initial operating capital from members' share contributions, enhance fees and deposits from members.

He made one observation about the resolutions. "The appointment of auditor (Resolution No. 2.) should have been featured in the list for the following reasons: The Registrar or Deputy Director then the audit report together with the financial statements is submitted to the Registrar for observation, confirmation and approval, to satisfy the correctness of the document. Secondly, the Audit of your credit Union had long ago been delegated to your Apex body NACCUG and that delegated responsibility is still valid (not retrieved.) I challenge the General Manager of NACCUG to take note of the point as long as the authority to conduct audit exercise continues to prevail," he said.

He suggested that the BIACCU look into the possibility of increasing their investment with NACCUG to allow others tap resources from it instead of the banks.

Joseph Jallow, a private consultant serving as the Guest Speaker on the occasion, said it was, "in 1935, when credit unions were helping Americans through the Great Depression. The treasurer of a Midwestern credit union said then that credit unions were 'not for profit, not for charity, but for service,'" adding, "that philosophy holds true today."

Mr. Jallow praised credit unions for working in their members' interest. Through providing loans, giving financial counselling and simply offering a better deal on a used car loan, "credit unions make a difference for their members, and the communities they serve," he said.

Mr. Jallow further mentioned the seven co-operative principles that were developed and inspired by the Rochdale Principles, which were named after the first successful co-op, founded in Rochdale England in the 1940s.

1.         Voluntary membership: there is no boundary in becoming a member.

2.         Democratic member control: credit unions are owned and controlled by their members, one-member-one-vote, with equal opportunity for participation in setting policies and making decisions.

3.         Members' Economic Participation:

4.         Autonomy and Independence

5.         Education, training and information

6.         Corporation among Co-operatives

7.         Concern for community

The WOCCU has formulated what is called "Principles of Credit Union Governance." These are divided into three categories as mentioned here below.

1.         Individual governance: and it strives to promote three things, I) commitment ii) competence and iii) commitment

2.         External governance

3.         Internal governance: This must strive to achieve I) structure ii) continuity iii) balance iv) accountability.

Mr. Jallow advised that members should be committed to their savings obligation and the repayment of loans.

"You must support the hard work your directors are doing. You must be interested in growing the capital base of your credit union, for a good sound capital base is beneficial and rewarding to the membership. You will reap the maximum benefit if you exercise the maximum patience, and be prudent in taking the right decisions," he said.

Joseph Jallow added: "You should be proud that you have established an institution that will benefit posterity. Be proud that tomorrow when history of this credit union is written you shall be counted among the number who worked hard to establish this financial institution."

Patrick Mendy, acting General Manager of NACCUG, thanked the BIACCU and praised the union for having 876 members in a very short time. He praised them for their commitment, and said their theme for this year coincides with NACCUG's commitment to poverty reduction.

Mr. Mendy said they must be prepared to serve as to be served. The credit union motto is: "Not for profit but for service," he reminded them, and said this should be their source of inspiration. They must also remember the saying: "The hand that gives is better that the one that receives."

The treasurer's report focused on the growth in percentage in all areas, and that savings increased by 21%.

Samba Badjie of the Supervisory Committee gave their task. There was no malpractice suspected, during the year in review, he said. The issue of the GCAA members loan balance being inconsistent with BIACCU system remains a major challenge, he added.

Mr. Fatty, the chair of the occasion, said they have taken all recommendations and suggestions.

"We thank you for your confidence in us. We hope 2011 will be better than the year before it".