Elkanah Odembo, Kenya's ambassador to the U.S., thanked credit unions for their support of his country at a reception at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Kenya's ambassador to the U.S. recognized 60 U.S. credit union representatives last week for their work to improve Kenya's economic stability in a region hit hard by post-election violence in 2007.
With a new election on the horizon, Ambassador Elkanah Odembo expressed appreciation for the partnership between credit unions in Kenya and in the U.S., and for the difference they make in Kenyans' lives. Odembo made the comments during a reception at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington last week in Washington, D.C.
After ethnic clashes following the 2007 presidential election left more than 1,000 people dead, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) began providing assistance to Busia Compassionate Centre, a western Kenya orphanage, through support from the international credit union community.
WOCCU initially worked with the orphanage through a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program that extended local credit union financing to small farmers, families and caretakers affected by HIV/AIDS. That program ended in 2010, but WOCCU and credit unions globally continued to support the center.
Credit unions financed educational scholarships, taught caretakers and orphans how to grow crops and raise animals for better nutrition and an income source, and supported building a safer, more secure facility.
Among 60 credit union representatives and Busia Compassionate Centre Supporters at a reception at the Kenyan Embassy were, from left, Jeff York, Lompoc, Calif.-based CoastHills FCU CEO; Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO; and Bill Cheney, Credit Union National Association president/CEO. (Photos provided by Larry Glatt)
The orphanage's local volunteers and children have also established a credit union to serve the Busia community. Donations from the international credit union system helped subsidize start-up costs and provide tools and methods to establish the credit union. The credit union is one of Kenya's two digital credit unions, where members can access their accounts via cellphone.
"Through our work with Kenya's savings and credit cooperatives, we were able to provide a sense of hope and security for people deeply affected by the post-election violence," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO.
"From the seeds of this work sprouted our partnership with the Busia Compassionate Centre, which has grown into a promising foundation for economic stability and growth in western Kenya. Millions of Kenyans streamed to the polls on Monday to cast their votes for a new president, and we are hopeful that this election will mark an era of greater prosperity for the country."
The Global Women's Leadership Network, a World Council initiative, is organizing an engagement program to Kenya, May 25 to June 4, 2013, to help launch the Busia Compassionate Centre's credit union. Participants will learn about the Kenyan credit union system and life in rural Kenya as well as conduct credit union staff and board trainings. Use the link for more information.