My name is Blake Reynolds, and for the next few weeks I will be travelling to Malawi as part of the Canadian Co-operative Association's Management Coaching Program!

Thanks for stopping by as I prepare for, travel to, experience and finally bid farewell to the 'Warm Heart of Africa'!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wrapping Up at Fodya SACCO

Our first 'Report Presentation"
We finished our last day at Fodya SACCO.  We were met by a smiling Oscar, as well three of the other four board members: Gilder, Wilson and Frederick.  One of the toughest part of presenting is when you are not sure what exactly sure what your audiences expectations are.  However once we got started things rolled along smoothly.  We gave our praise for a job well done to date, and gave our observations and experiences pertaining to several areas such as Security, Membership, Lending and Technology.  Fodya is a fairly young and fairly small SACCO, but they have a lot of good ideas, complimented by a strong board and wonderful employees.  Sometimes as a small SACCO or Credit Union with big ideas, the most important thing is to map out where you want to go, but then also assess what the steps are along the way as sometimes the ultimate destination can seem a frustratingly long ways off.
We were able to get a preview of the interim software that the Alliance One IT guy (who is also a loyal member) created for Brian and Rita and I have to say I was impressed!  I really feel it will help free up the time they need to get out and promote their SACCO, as both have great ideas to increase their membership. 
We presented Oscar, the board president with our CCA certificate of participation, and I gave him a copy of OMISTA Credit Union’s Annual Report as well as a ball cap.  I think he was happier with the cap as he didn’t even take it off for the pictures!
Erin & I with the Fodya Board of Directors
(left to right) Wilson, Gilder, Oscar and Frederick

Fodya director and E.Eng

We were bought lunch at the manager’s cafeteria and I have to say the food was pretty decent.  We asked Frederick what should someone new to Malawi do experience some local culture, as we have been in town all week and would like to see a bit more of this beautiful country.  He was very excited to point out a few points of interest which I hope we will get over the next week.  We are hoping to visit Lake Malawi this weekend, and catch a popular Malawi band called “The Black Missionaries” who perform reggae in both English and local Chichewa!
As it is the off-season, we were able to tour a part of the huge tobacco refinery with Frederick, who is an Electrical Engineer there.  He told me he got his degree at a technology college here in Malawi, and that he is very proud to be an important part of his company’s plant.  He said he was even more proud to be on the board of Fodya as he feels he is able to really help its members save money and build a financial future because otherwise they would not be able to.
Good Bye to Fodya!  We'll miss you!
Brian and Erin inside Fodya SACCO
We walked back to the branch and said our good byes to Rita and Brian.  Brian coyly explained that he was not there yesterday because his wife gave birth to their second son!  He proudly showed off pictures of his wife and sons, Wisdom and Wonderful, and it made more a bit more sad to leave all the people at this wonderful SACCO.  We are planning to stop by briefly next Thursday so we can present the hard copy of the report as well as a flash drive of the electronic report, some sample policies and some pictures of our Fodya adventures.

We ended our work day back at the MUSCCO offices chatting with Swanzie about youth programs.  They have a clean slate, but are hoping to explore youth savings clubs (very successful in Ghana), as well as potential financial literacy programs for schools and leadership camps to help educate young people about co-operatives and SACCOs.  There are many different programs across the country, so my goal is to put these people if possible in touch with Swanzie or at least point her in the right direction.  It’s neat to see how the “co-operative and credit union movement” can so easily and effectively cross borders!
Until Next Time,


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