"It's a two-part process, says Joel Inglis, on the phone from Nova Scotia. He is talking about the youth savings club program he worked on in Ghana while there last year as a CCA intern. "One part education, teaching young Ghanaian about savings and running a small business and the other part is recruitment, getting young blood into the credit union system."
With 40 percent of Ghana's population being under the age of 15 and the average age of credit union members being 41, this "young blood" is integral to the system, "there is definitely a disconnect between the population and the credit union membership" notes Joel.
It was a visit to Canada in 1998 by Aba Smith, a headmistress and credit union member from Tokaradi in Ghana, that inspired the idea of youth savings clubs. On her return to Ghana she immediately began a club in her own school and it escalated from there. CCA sent it's first youth savings club intern to Ghana in 2002 to help establish and grow the program.
This two-part process seems to be working as Ghanaian youth are getting invaluable savings and business lessons and also staying in the credit union system after school. "Some of the people who were the first youth savings club members are now managing credit unions," says Joel, "I met a handful of people who are working on the credit union movement, sitting on boards etc who are all former youth savings club members."
Joel himself has also stayed within the credit union system, now employed at the Sydney Credit Union in Nova Scotia, his home province.
The youth savings club initiative has proven so successful it has been extended to projects in Malawi and Uganda, teaching even more youth the value of saving for the future.
So what does Joel see as the future for these young Ghanaian savers? "Teach them the skills and hopefully they will be the next wave of people pushing the movement forward. They will be smart savers, borrowers and leaders in the movement."
To learn more about the Ghana Youth Savings Clubs watch this short video An Investment in the Future: Ghana's Youth Savings Club's
To learn more about CCA's volunteer internship program visit us here.
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