The credit union of the insurers has made some progress and registered achievement within one year of its establishment despite facing some difficulties in the beginning.
The Insurance Association of The Gambia Cooperative Credit Union (IAGCCU) on Friday held its maiden annual general meeting (AGM) at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul where the executive of the union disclosed to the members the modest achievements made by the union 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.
Lamin Yarboe, chairman of the executive committee of the credit union, said that at the beginning, they found it very difficult even to have working capital for the credit union.
“We approached all the companies in the industry but none of them was willing to give us the needed money,” he said.
He noted that the one-year journey was not very smooth but by dint of hard work, dedication and determination to succeed, coupled with the support of the members of the credit union, they were able to make it.
Mr Yarboe thanked Henry Jawo, secretary general of the Insurance Association of The Gambia (IAG), for his support, words of courage and wisdom during the difficult times of the credit union.
“When we started the credit union, we did not have a penny but thank God today we are giving loans, which is a testimony of how far we have gone,” said Raymond Ceesay, vice chairman of the credit union.
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 has started giving loans and gave D81,400 in 2012, and from January to 15 February 2013 it has disbursed more than D90,000 as loan.
The byelaws of the IAGCCU state that members are only entitled to loans or withdrawals after six months of regular savings, and the loans of the credit union attract 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.
Hameh B. Jawara of the National Co-operative Credit Union of The Gambia (NACCUG), the 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 time then you will not be eligible for any loan at the time you may need it and besides, this will not help the credit union to grow,” he explained.
“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 told members of the credit union that NACCUG has been observing the IAGCCU and has noticed that the credit union is growing.
He said: “We have noticed that the credit union though young has been growing in terms of both balance sheet and membership, which is encouraging.”
In view of this success, Mr Jawara informed the AGM that 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 give the insurers’ credit union the legal status to be a full-fledge credit union.
Saihou Samba, secretary general of the IAGCCU, said membership of the credit union is voluntary and open to all staffs of all insurance companies who are members of the IAG.
He said there are plans to include brokers and agents who are in the business of insurance and are attached to member-insurance companies.
|Mr Samba, secretary general of the IAGCCU|
The present membership of the IAGCCU, Samba said, is more than 100.
He also said the mandatory monthly contribution of the members to the credit union is D100 as at present.
“This amount is only a minimum contribution and there is no maximum as members are free to save as much as they can,” he said, adding: “We have been receiving regular monthly savings of up to D1,500 from members and this is quite encouraging.”
He thanked the secretary general and the president of the IAG, Henry Jawo and Dawda Sarge, respectively, for providing all the necessary support to the union.