Monday, February 25, 2013

Insurers’ credit union makes progress amid challenges

The insurance industry, which is globally tainted by unethical practices, has a negative image in The Gambia/Photo/Lamin Jahateh/2011
The credit union of insurers in The Gambia has registered some achievement within one year of establishment despite facing some difficulties at the start. 

The Insurance Association of The Gambia Cooperative Credit Union (IAGCCU) on Friday held its maiden annual general meeting at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, where its executive disclosed the modest achievements made in the face of adversities.

The executive members of the association said they found it difficult initially to have the confidence of the insurers to be members of the credit union.

“At the beginning, we found it very difficult even to have working capital for the credit union,” executive committee chairperson Lamin Yarboe said. “We have approached all the companies in the industry but none of them was willing to give us the money.” 

Mr Yarboe noted that the journey was not very smooth but by dint of hard work, dedication and determination couple with the support of the members, they were able to make it.

“When we started the credit union, we do not have a penny but thank God today we are giving loans, which is a testimony of how far we have gone,” said vice chairperson Raymond Ceesay.

The treasurer of the credit union, Sirrah Jammeh, said the total savings of the union for the year under review is D220, 200. 

She said the credit union have given out loans amounting to D81,400 in 2012, and from January to 15th February 2013 it has disbursed more than 90,000 as loan.

The bylaw of the IAGCCU states that members are only entitled to loans or withdrawals after six months regular savings, and the loans of the credit union attracts an interest rate of 1.25% per month.  All the loans given by the credit union as of now are on short and medium term basis.

Programme manager Hameh B. Jawara of the National Co-operative Credit Union of The Gambia (NACCUG), apex body of credit unions in the country, urged the executive members of the IAGCCU to encourage more savings and discourage withdrawals.

“This does not mean that people cannot withdraw but when you keep on withdrawing all the times then you will not be eligible for any loan at the time you might need it,” he said.

“… and besides, this will not help the credit union to grow. But when you take loan, after meeting the criteria, you can pay with the minimal interest rate so that the credit union can also grow,” he advice.
“We notice that the credit union though young, is growing both in terms of balance sheet and in membership which is encouraging.

“The IAGCCU, which is still considered a study group by NACCUG, will be given its certificate of registration hopefully by next week [this week] to gave it the legal status to be a full-fledge credit union,” Mr Jawara said. 

Saihou Samba, secretary general of the IAGCCU, said membership of the credit union is voluntary and open to all staff of all insurance companies who are members of the IAG. 

Location map of the Gambia Equirectangular pro...
Location map of the Gambia Equirectangular projection. Geographic limits of the map: N: 14.3° N S: 12.6° N W: 17.0° W E: 13.6° W (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He said there are plans to include brokers and agents who are in the business of insurance in the future and are attached to member insurance companies.

The present membership of the IAGCCU, Samba said, is more than 100. He said the mandatory monthly contribution of the members to the credit union is a minimum D100. 

“This amount is only a minimum and there is no maximum as members are free to save as much as they can,” Mr Samba said. “We have been receiving regular monthly savings of up to D1, 500 from members and this is quite encouraging.”

Written by Modou S. Joof

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