Community banking in Samalete self help group

News from the field: an update from Timor-Leste’s Country Manager

Francelino joined CUFA as Country Manager, Timor-Leste in 2016.  Here are some of his reflections on CUFA’s work in the field there:

70% of my country’s people live in rural areas and work as farmers.  The support CUFA is able to provide to the farmers is life-changing and recognises the reality of life in our new country.  I am proud to be a part of the CUFA team.

In Timor, the Credit Union Development (CUD) project works with communities to create new community savings groups which pool together money and offer productive loans to members.  The project has longer term impacts including a change of mindset around financial management, community leadership, trust and shared responsibility. Community pride is an unexpected result of developing a community bank or savings group.   Communities which were previously impoverished and fractured begin to give priority to long-term outcomes like education of their kids and access to health care.

CUFA provides amazing guidance and support for people in rural areas, which is why it has been so successful.  The Village Entrepreneurs are trained and guided through some tough decision making and end up with sustainable micro-businesses.  It brings me joy to see their progress.

I am also proud of the team here in Timor.  The guys travel to distant locations on motorbikes and work tirelessly in the field to make a difference.

CUFA has been in Timor for ten years now and its legacy is obvious.  I am now eager to innovate and find new ways the team and I can develop financial inclusion in my country.  We have lots of ideas to support social businesses and undertake more financial literacy training.

- By Francelino Guterres 

Members of the Aimerahun savings group

Members of the Aimerahun savings group

CUFA staff working with Village Entrepreneurs in Letefoho

CUFA staff working with Village Entrepreneurs in Letefoho

Community banking in Samalete self help group

Francelino Guterres

Francelino Guterres, Country Program Manager Timor-Leste


CUFA’s 4 Es: Economic, Enterprise, Employment and Education

CUFA’s 4 Es: Economic, Enterprise, Employment and Education

For more than 45 years, CUFA has been facilitating and assisting emerging community banks, savings groups and financial cooperatives across the Asia-Pacific region. We thank all our supporters for enabling this important work in the fight against poverty. You are central to our success.

CUFA’s work empowers people living in poverty to build their communities and participate in their local economies. At the heart of our work is the development of village savings and loans programs.  Village banks allow people with no access to financial services to have a safe and secure place to save their money, and enables them to access loans.

Over the past few years, our projects have expanded to include financial literacy education for children and adults, support for development of micro-enterprises and social enterprises, and employment placement for the long-term under-employed.  Most recently CUFA has run employment expos for people living in poverty in Phnom Penh and Poi Pet in Cambodia.

These programs give people a much needed hand up, not a hand out.  At CUFA we are proud to work directly with communities to ensure their needs are central to every program we run.

Strong partnerships, effective outcomes

CUFA is recognised as a global leader in community bank development, and our evaluations show impact and effectiveness. We celebrate our partners and donors who have enabled this experience and expertise to reach into the poorest communities in our region.

Funding from the Australian Government and multi-laterals like the Asian Development Bank enables us to continue our life-saving work and recognises the important role that CUFA plays in development. CUFA, alongside other like-minded community organisations, are powerful agents of change, often working in places that are hard to reach such as remote, fragile or disaster-affected areas. The development work conducted by CUFA contributes to the depth and reach of Australia’s aid program and helps add a particular focus on supporting women, girls and people with a disability.

The ACFID Code of Conduct

CUFA is also fully accredited by the Australian Government through the Australian Aid program and is a signatory to the Australian Council for International Development’s Code of Conduct.   ACFID’s Code ensures that signatories uphold ethical standards in the delivery of programs, financial management, protection of children and fundraising.    The Code protects both the beneficiaries of development work and donors to projects, as it ensure best practice and accountability.

This year CUFA’s Deputy CEO, Rebecca MacFarling, is honoured to sit on the Code of Conduct Committee, working to enforce high standards of international development and transparency. The Code Committee is comprised of ten members, both elected and specialist appointments.  It is charged with developing and administering the code, and promotion and education. In 2016 the Code was updated and its scope widened, and the focus is now education and implementation of the new Code.

CUFA at a Glance

  • 88.5% of CUFA’s expenditure goes directly to its programs. 7.4% goes to fundraising and 4.1% to administration.
  • For every dollar invested in CUFA’s programs, $8.07 of social return on investment is generated.
  • More than 45 years’ experience working across the Asia Pacific.
  • Signatory to the Australian Council for International Development’s Code of Conduct.
  • Accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australian Aid program.
  • Winners in the NSW Business Chamber Awards in Business Ethics and Small Business categories, 2016.
  • Finalists in the Telstra Business Awards, Charity Category, 2016.

How can you be involved?
There are many ways to partner with CUFA to make a lasting difference in our region:

  • Through an annual investment in our work
  • By participating in a Challenge program
  • By supporting a Village Entrepreneur
  • By joining the Investors’ Circle as an individual
  • Through workplace giving

If you would like to discuss a partnership with CUFA, please get in touch with Deputy CEO, Rebecca MacFarling, at or on 1300 490 467.

The rural streets

Reflections from our Volunteers: Making a difference in the world & what that means

Making a difference in the world & what that means

 - By Jamie Lee, University of Sydney student and participant in CUFA’s Community Placement Program 2016.

“You will make a difference in the world!”

“You will change people’s lives!”

“What incredible work you are doing for those communities!”

As I told people I would be heading to Cambodia for 4 weeks to work and study as a CUFA intern, these are the common responses I received.

People who knew me previously had at least some vague idea about my passion and dedication to volunteer as a social worker regardless of location. Hence, I was very thrilled during my engagement with CUFA – through the process of application, booking flights and so on. Despite endless ‘things-to-do’ when preparing for the trip, it was something that persisted me through the stressful examination period. Meanwhile, as an eager volunteering intern myself, my mind began to build unrealistic expectations about the potential result I could bring to the country without even truly knowing what I would witness and experience through my experience with CUFA in Cambodia.

I think it is fair to say I was overly confident about the role I would undertake within the organisation during such a short period of time. For me, this whole idea about ‘making a difference in the world’ was about bringing equality and abundance to villagers, finding the ultimate solution to avoid poverty, giving external views about the world by sharing knowledge from the university and personal experiences. However, it did not take that long for me to realise that one person does not solve the problems of poverty by flying in for a month.

The rural side of Cambodia as it is a very different environment compared to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. The countryside was beautiful, and I constantly found myself mesmerised by the breathtaking view of endless rice fields, sandy unpaved roads with constant traffic caused by cows and water buffaloes. There were also ordinary cars on the streets, which you can only tell if it is a taxi when they stop for passengers (there was not a single sign) and traditional Khmer houses (two-storey buildings where the basic structure is a wooden frame and bottom part is used during the day which essentially acts as a roof). To be honest, it was the most underdeveloped place I have ever been in my life. But the fact was that it was an incredibly rural area, and had been almost completely isolated from the rest of the world. Even the harvesting of rice was all done by hand.

Along with my fellow interns, my role was to support the local credit union through CUFA’s Credit Union Development program. This system is essential for local villagers who are unable to access more formal institutions, due to lack of income, geographical isolation and lack of credible identification. I found myself unfamiliar with the environment and lives of villagers.

Due to this, the other interns and I took even more responsibility and had the privilege to be involved from the initial stage of work – figuring out the purpose of our journey and inventing projects and solutions.  We were the first ever participants on CUFA’s University of Sydney internship program and I realise our privileged position.

Overall, the program I was most impressed with was not that the farmers and small sellers in the community were using the accounting systems, it was also not seeing local banks increasing the community participation rate by 200%, nor was it seeing the increased savings capacity through the Kids Saving Account. Before the trip, as a person wondering what kind of long lasting impact of change I would be able to make, these outcomes are what I would have desired to see. But, I saw myself becoming stronger, not only physically, but also psychologically. This enabled me to personalise the overall purpose of this trip. There may not be any profound and measurable change that I myself directly made, but I noticed a deeply personal one.

This was achieved not only through the work I did with local CUFA staff, but also through hearing their stories and witnessing the history, politics, living culture and education practices in Cambodia. By completely blending into their everyday activities, from three meals of local Khmer food (my favourite breakfast was beef noodle soup, called Kuy teav), shopping in markets where bargaining skills are essential, and being surrounded by a foreign language, taught me the great lesson of widening my perspective. It was such an awakening experience, which made me realise how little I knew about the world. If somebody ever asks me to summarise this experience in one sentence, I would say this: It was the most unforgettable and valuable life-changing experience, which I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone who is willing to stretch and challenge the way you perceive yourself and the world.



I hope you enjoy the few photos below from my time in Cambodia.

- Jamie Lee


Will you rise to the Challenge?

CUFA is extending a unique opportunity to teachers and education professionals to join our Cycle Cambodia adventure holiday challenge this April 17-22, and to help raise funds and awareness in support of our poverty combating work across the Asia-Pacific region.

Not a teacher? No worries! You can register for our June open challenge HERE.

With an emphasis on participating in the delivery of CUFA’s Children’s Financial Literacy program in Cambodia’s classrooms, this physical adventure challenge is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for education professionals to become involved with CUFA’s international development work first-hand, as well as experience the amazing culture, people, food and scenery of Cambodia.

The April tour coincides with school holidays and participants complete a 6-day cross-country cycle challenge in Siem Reap, the home of the historic Angkor Wat, as well as volunteering in CUFA’s project work in primary schools in provinces across Cambodia. It is the opportunity to witness education and schooling in a vibrant and emerging economy.

‘At CUFA, we operate on the foundation of our core values of passion, integrity, collaboration and innovation – values I believe to have a natural synergy with the education community. These shared values are applied directly in our Children’s Financial Literacy program, as well as in our other poverty-combating initiatives across the Asia-Pacific. In 2017, we hope to welcome as many members of the education community as possible to join us in our mission to alleviate poverty in a lasting and meaningful way.’ – Rebecca MacFarling, Deputy CEO, CUFA

CUFA staff and previous challengers with Cambodian Children’s Financial Literacy program participants.

 ‘I experienced the most exciting and thought provoking trip to Cambodia. I can’t praise the CUFA Cambodia staff enough. Their commitment to the Cambodian children with the literacy program and support for the Village Entrepreneurs is truly commendable. The support provided to all of us on our challenge was outstanding and I can not praise the CUFA staff enough.’ - Ally Bruhn, 2015 CUFA Challenger

Registrations for CUFA’s Teacher’s Cycle Cambodia challenge this April close Friday 3rd Feb. Find out more and register your interest HERE.



Village Entrepreneur family

How your Christmas gift to CUFA can change someone’s life

You can give one final gift this Christmas that really will keep on giving. 

By donating $25 today, this is how you can transform someone’s life…

26 year old Sreyorn, was too poor to send her children to school or even put food on the table. As a young mother in rural Cambodia, Sreyorn worked hard on her small chicken and vegetable farm to earn less than $1.00 a day to support her husband and two children. This meant Sreyorn’s family sometimes skipped meals, her children were at risk of not finishing primary school, and no one in her family had access to medical services, even when her children were sick. 

Since participating in one of CUFA’s hands-on financial programs just one year ago, Sreyorn’s life has changed dramatically. She has learnt skills on how to manage her money at home and in her business, has been able to access a loan to expand her micro-business, and begun to save for the future and lift herself and her family out of poverty for good. Sreyorn and her children now imagine a different, brighter future for themselves.

With the money Sreyorn now has access to, she has been able to install solar panels for light and electricity in her small home. This means her children can now study at night, and Sreyorn can weave baskets for extra income. She is also able to afford good food for her family every day.

Making a Christmas donation to CUFA will give deserving people like Sreyorn a chance to break-out of poverty by providing them with a safe place to save their money and take out loans, helping them to create a brighter future.

Every single dollar you donate makes a difference and is greatly appreciated. Please be awesome and donate what you can today to support the CUFA International Projects Fund.


Ratha Ra in the field in Cambodia collecting data on the Credit Union Development project.

News from the Field: Cambodia’s rural unbanked build new savings groups

Ratha Ra is CUFA’s International Project Liaison Officer.  In November, Ratha spent time in the field collecting data on the Credit Union Development project in Cambodia.

CUFA’s Credit Union Development Project is run in Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste.  It works to develop community-owned financial services in poor, rural places where people are “unbanked” and without a safe place to save their money.  Fundamentally, CUFA believes that fighting poverty starts with enabling people to save money.

CUFA Cambodia is currently providing support to communities in four provinces, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Stung Treng and Ratanakiri.  These are all rural areas that have previously had no exposure or access to financial services at even the most basic level.

In my new role as CUFA’s International Project Liaison Officer, I travelled to these communities to collect data and information to help CUFA evaluate the program and better understand both impact and where we can do more.

I was excited about this opportunity – the chance to talk directly to people whose lives we are trying to assist is special as it can help direct decisions about the projects and make improvements.

I visited three key communities.  My first visit was to a community about 40km from main street of Memot district.  The majority people in the area work in agriculture – mostly rubber, pepper and cassava.  I also went to Stung Treng where the majority of people are migrants from Laos and speak Laotian.  They typically work in the rice fields and as forestry workers in the nearby mountains.   In Ratanakiri, the communities are comprised of indigenous Cambodians who also work in agriculture.  This project location is extremely remote and the roads are difficult and dusty.

In each community, I spoke to the savings group members, committees, community chiefs and authorities, and people with disabilities.  What I found was consistent across all three areas.


The data I collected suggested some important impacts on communities.  Overwhelmingly,

  • Members understand the importance of saving for the future.
  • Members have increased their individual savings, enabling their money to be loaned to other members.
  • Members feel their money is safe and that they trust their fellow members.
  • Members can access loans at low interest rates quickly.
  • Members have improved their financial literacy and family budgeting skills.


  • Some of the local savings groups don’t yet have enough capital to provide loans for the members, which has led to a handful of dissatisfied members.
  • In some communities, villages think that saving money at home is safer than depositing it in a credit union.
  • In some communities, rates of illiteracy and lack of numeracy have caused challenges for member training.

I am proud of the work that CUFA’s project officers and field staff, led by coordinator Mr Sokhdom Nong, have been able to do in remote communities.  He and the team will work to address the challenges and community concerns over the next year through additional and specific training.

The data collection process was one the most eye-opening and exciting experiences of my new job so far.  It is satisfying to see that  through financial literacy and access to safe banking we can tackle poverty directly.

Ratha Ra in Cambodia with Credit Union Development project participants.

Ratha Ra in Cambodia with local Credit Union members.

Dr Peter Mason on site in Bougainville, August 2016

Message from the CEO

As the end of the year approaches, it gives me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the work of CUFA’s team across 2016. The effort to combat poverty sometimes seems insurmountable, but I can honestly say, that I have seen firsthand how CUFA’s work makes a difference.

Our most significant success this year was the first-year roll-out of Youth Pathways for the Future project in Bougainville.  In 2015/2016, the project worked with 2,016 young people aged between 15 and 25 years to improve financial literacy, enterprise and employment opportunities. So far we have seen 111 young people undertake an apprenticeship, and 109 young people open their own business. Results are showing massive and positive impacts on the communities. There is more work to be done in our second year in Bougainville.

Thanks to support from organisations such as Teachers Mutual Bank and CPA Australia, Children’s Financial Literacy program in Cambodia continues to create meaningful impact for poor rural children and their families.  CUFA has not only extended its reach, but has been able to achieve its most striking innovation.  Last year, we launched the Count4Kids digital app which introduces technology into the Children’s Financial Literacy program in Cambodia. Children in the rural poor areas of Cambodia rarely have access to technology, and often not electricity, but our unique program provides lifelong skills in financial literacy and now exposure to technology.  We are looking to launch the Children’s Financial Literacy program in Myanmar, please contact me if you’d like to support the new program.

CUFA strengthened its ties with the Asian Development Bank this year, partnering on a new program Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation to increase financial well-being, reduce indebtedness and improve financial literacy in displaced communities in Cambodia.  The team in Cambodia has now started an employment placement and social enterprise program for these communities, and we are excited about the project rollout over the next 18 months.

CUFA’s work in Myanmar has grown over the last year, thanks to a partnership with Action on Poverty.  With their support, we have trialled a women’s economic empowerment program, developing three village savings groups in remote Taik Kyi province.  While these groups are still in the early stages of development, the women in the region are building a strong financial future for themselves and their families.

CUFA has also launched its flagship micro-enterprise program, the Village Entrepreneur in Myanmar, which aims to support small business owners to sustainability.  Through a three-year program of training, mentoring and business investment, individuals develop micro-enterprises which lift themselves and their families out of poverty.  We continue to search for community investors to support the new Village Entrepreneurs.  If you’d like to make a difference with a monthly donation of $39 for three years, please visit

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our donors: the individual community investors, our corporate partners, mutual banking partners and institutional funders.  We couldn’t do this work without you.  Thank you for your support.

My thanks also go to CUFA’s board of directors – Margot, Peter, Roseanne, Madeline, Hermine (to whom we said farewell this year), and incoming directors Aleks and Stephanie.  The board works tirelessly to support the organisation and I look forward to working with them again next year.

I would also like to acknowledge and congratulate the CUFA staff who are tirelessly dedicated to our mission to combat poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

On behalf of everyone at CUFA, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.

- Dr Peter Mason, CEO

How the generosity of someone like you transformed everyday life for Phalla Brak and his family.

Village Entrepreneur Phalla BrakL-R: Village Entrepreneur Phalla Brak with his family, his pigs and vegetable crops.

Meet Phalla Brak. His life has been dramatically improved thanks to the help and generosity of his Australian Community Investor.

Phalla Brak is from Cambodia where he lives with, and supports his wife, daughter and elderly parents. Prior to joining CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur program, Phalla Brak struggled to make ends meet and provide necessary items for his family such as food, healthcare and clothing.

On top of this, he was battling with a deteriorating leg injury because he was unable to afford the proper treatment. This significantly hindered his ability to generate an income from his only available revenue source – a single female pig.

Since receiving support from his Community Investor in December 2013, Phalla Brak has been empowered to change his life, and the lives of those around him in an amazing way:

  • Phalla Brak could afford the necessary treatment for his leg, which has now healed completely.
  • He expanded his business by raising more pigs, he currently nurtures eight pigs and has been able to build a secure pen for them. He has also expanded his business into chicken raising.
  • He learned technical skills relating to housing pigs and chickens, vaccinations, pig food making, as well as vital budgeting, planning and marketing skills for his business.
  • He has utilised the waste generated from the pigs to make compost for vegetable farming and to create a bio-gas cooker for his family. He has since been able to turn his vegetable farming into another source of income.
  • His family’s living conditions have improved because Phalla Brak was able to earn enough to install electricity in the home, and build them a new kitchen and bathroom.
  • Better income has meant that his daughter could acquire the resources she needs to improve her studies, and make plans for higher education.
  • He has learnt new skills to start another business making beds and tables, and purchased a small plot of land for rice planting.
  • Phalla Brak hosted a study tour for people in his community to share the business model, knowledge and confidence he gained through the Village Entrepreneur program.

‘I was so happy to receive support from my Community Investor to change my life. I must continue working hard to show my appreciation and also so that other people in my community learn from me. I will share all my experiences with them. I wish for good health and success for my Community Investor so they may continue to help people like me.’

- Phalla Brak

Many other deserving candidates in Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Cambodia are patiently awaiting sponsorship from someone like you to activate their Village Entrepreneur journey. For $39 a month for 3 years you can be the reason someone like Phalla Brak is able to transform their life and get themselves and their family out of poverty for good.

Please become a Community Investor. Meet the individuals and families awaiting sponsorship online now at:

If you require more information or assistance at any stage please contact us at or phone 1300 490 467.

Together we can end poverty and invest in a brighter, shared future. 

MAD Day Updates 2016

CUFA’s MAD (Make A Difference) Day took place during Anti-Poverty Week on the 21st October 2016, and we have been stoked to receive such a positive response from all the participants. MAD Day raised support for CUFA’s International Project Fund, and specifically our Children’s Financial Literacy Program, which provides the opportunity for children living in poverty to learn the necessary skills they need to change their lives.

We  had participants from across Australia taking part in MAD Day raising charity  for CUFA whilst having lots of fun on a beautiful and warm Friday. All our event participants chose very creative and entertaining party theme’s, and it was genuinely tough to choose the top three groups to name as our 2016 Champions. We would like to say a big thank you to all those who participated to make MAD Day 2016 a big success for us. With your continued support we can continue our important work.


Also, we have finally chosen our three MAD Day Champions of the year! They are the Queenslanders Credit Union, the Heritage Isle Credit Union and the Laboratories Credit Union.


Here are a few pictures of the MAD Day Champion’s that we would love to share with you. We are sure you will appreciate their enthusiasm and the fun they had as much as we did. If you feel you have missed out this year, do not worry! Sign up to our newsletter to ensure you are among the first to hear about our MAD Day plans for 2017. There is nothing better than contributing to a worthwhile cause whilst having truckloads of fun with your friends, family or work colleagues.

Here are the pictures of our first MAD Day Champion – The Heritage Isle Credit Union. We particularly loved their fun-loving spirit and enthusiasm.

MAD Day collage1

Our second MAD Day Champion – The Laboratories Credit Union impressed us with their entertaining costumes. Check it out for yourself in the picture below:

collage LCU


And last but not the least,  we chose the Queenslanders Credit Union as our third MAD Day Champion. We totally loved their ”Smartie Partie” theme and not only that, they looked so colourful themselves too. Here they are:

mad day CUFA


Once again, we would like to say thank you to all those who participated this year. We appreciate every little effort you took and look forward to having you all on board next year for the MAD Day too.







Myanmar kids colored_CUFA

Where the funds you give go

Each year, CUFA reaches more than 4,000,000 people, directly and indirectly, through our projects across 14 countries.  Our aim is to help each of these people lift themselves out of poverty through the establishment of grassroots financial institutions, through education programs, through enterprise initiatives and by facilitating employment opportunities.  We help people participate in their communities and economies.

CUFA staff work hard each day to ensure that the resources entrusted to us by all our precious supporters are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.  Our goal is to achieve maximum impact in each of the communities we work.

How we spent our funds in 2015-16-CUFA

How we spent our funds in 2015-16


82.9 %

International programs

These funds go to support and carry out programs that benefit ultra-poor communities across the Asia-Pacific.

5.6 %

Program support costs

Program support includes evaluations, measurement and field support.  These costs ensure that CUFA’s work is accountable, impactful and effective.

7.4 %

Fundraising costs

Fundraising is important in generating donations of cash and in-kind support.  Public fundraising includes the cost for gaining long-term supporters so that our work can continue.

4.1 %

Administration costs 

This is essential to the day-to-day running of our work and includes operating our finance, administration and management teams.


Why your help is so important

Our work is made possible mainly by the support of generous Australians just like you. We rely on people like you to donate to our programs and appeals so we can provide vital short and long-term help to people across the Asia-Pacific.

How we raised our funds in 2015-2016

How we raised our funds in 2015-2016


60% of our funds come from the Australian Government

As an accredited international development agency in the Australian NGO Cooperation Program, CUFA receives funding from DFAT.

Importantly, every dollar you as a member of the public or the Australian business sector donates can contribute to increasing CUFA’s funding from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program.


16% of our funds come from the Australian customer-owned banking sector

CUFA maintains strong ties to credit unions and mutual banks in Australia, many of which continue to support CUFA through annual donations, workplace giving, participation in MAD Day and Leadership Challenges, and other initiatives.  Thank you to all our loyal supporters in the sector!  We couldn’t do it without you.


7% of our funds come from events

These include Leadership Challenges and volunteering trips for students and professionals, as well as conferences.  Challenges are life-changing for participants, but also raise money to support CUFA programs like Children’s Financial Literacy.


6% of our funds come from members of the public like you

Donations from the public are increasingly important to CUFA.  Through programs like the Village Entrepreneur, emergency appeals and direct donations, CUFA maintains strong relationships with individual donors who care about financial inclusion and finding solutions to poverty in our region.

We welcome new donors to CUFA. If you would like to find out more, visit our website or call us on 1300 490 467.


3% of our funds come from other corporate partners

CUFA has recently established corporate partnerships with CPA Australia, KPMG and other businesses, which have brought to fruition a range of impactful and important initiatives.

If you would like to discuss a corporate partnership with CUFA, visit our website or call Volodymyr Vasylenkov on 1300 490 467.


The remainder of CUFA’s funds come from important partnerships

The remainder of our funding comes from a variety of sources.  CUFA partners with the Asian Development Bank, Action on Poverty and other international organisations to run projects that address poverty and financial exclusion in places like Myanmar and Cambodia.



If you want to make a difference to the world, click here to donate to CUFA

Also read : 5 Reasons you should support CUFA


CUFA celebrates International Credit Union Day today

International Credit Union Day Celebrates the Authentic Difference

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy. Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated the principles that make credit unions the best financial partners of people all over the world.  “The authentic difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions — principles.

Credit unions all over the world have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

These principles are derived from the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

  1. Democratic Control

One member = One vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.

  1. Open and Voluntary Membership

Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.

  1. Non-Discrimination

Credit unions are open to all without regard to race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.

  1. Service to Members

Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys because they exist to serve members, not profit.

  1. Distribution to Members

Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.

  1. Building Financial Stability

Credit unions are historically stable organisations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.

  1. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Credit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.

  1. Social Responsibility

Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.

  1. Ongoing Education

Credit unions prioritise financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at CUFA.  We think ideas like people before profit, social responsibility, and financial education improve lives. It’s why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries get access to microloans, have a safe and secure place to save money, and ultimately build stronger communities.  This is the work CUFA have facilitated across the Asia-Pacific region since 1971.

Happy ICU Day.








Copyright 2016 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

047CAM2015 - Children are learning in class (8)

Making A Difference through Children’s Financial Literacy

This week is national Anti-Poverty Week, and we’re proud to be joining other like-minded, socially conscious change makers across the country in an effort to rally support for combating this global issue head-on by making a difference through Children’s Financial Literacy Program with the help of our MAD Day event on Friday 21st October.

MAD (Make A Difference) Day raises support for CUFA’s International Project Fund, and specifically our Children’s Financial Literacy Program which provides the opportunity for children living in poverty to change their lives. Earlier this year volunteers from Teachers Mutual Bank visited Cambodia to see firsthand the impact of our Children’s Financial Literacy program which has reached more than 82,000 children since inception in 2008. Focused on providing financial literacy training to kids in ultra-poor communities in rural locations, this program equips pupils with skills that are critical to breaking the cycle of poverty for good.

This Make A Difference Day, we challenge you to take on the Teachers Mutual Bank for the title of MAD Day Champion.

Register your MAD Day fundraising event with us here and see the delightful faces of our Children’s Financial Literacy program in the inspiring short video below.

Together we can change people’s lives and end poverty for good.

 Tag us in your fundraising festivities to go in the draw to be our CUFA MAD Day Champion 2016 @cufaltd #makeadifference #MADday #antipovertyweek2016 #CUFAempowers #Cufaltd


Quelyne’s remarkable story of change

By Jordon Becks- Project Officer, CUFA Bougainville


Meet Quelyne Topu, a 25-year-old woman from Eletupan district of the Haku constituency in Buka District, North Bougainville. Through CUFA’s Youth Village Training Program she has successfully started harvesting her very own two-hectare peanut plantation. CUFA runs this program as part of their Bougainville Youth Initiative (BYI), and is funded by the Australian Government.

Being a young mother, Quelyne has seen her fair share of hardships and struggles in trying to provide the basics needed to improve her family’s standard of living. The positive part of this story is; after CUFA’s initial training in Haku, Quelyne was enabled to start her new prospective private micro-enterprise activity.


Here’s how CUFA brought a positive change to Quelyne’s life:

Quelyne has started her own peanut plantation after she recognised the community’s demand for peanuts. This further pushed her to link-up to a micro- enterprising activity for addressing that need. In Quelyne’s words, “CUFA’s initial training that was conducted was sufficient in making me get off my back and start this new private micro-enterprise, which I would never be able to do otherwise”.


Quelyne also added, “I am confident that my micro-enterprise will be a success, thanks to the CUFA’s Bougainville Village Youth Training Program, and also knowing that my peanut seedlings are germinating as we speak right now”. She is a clear example of one of the many lives CUFA has touched, helping to strengthen and build the economic situation for the youth in Bougainville.

CUFA is proud to help implement these activities which are part of the Bougainville Youth Initiative . The Australian Government continues to provide support for the Bougainville Youth Initiative to encourage youth participation in Bougainville’s economic and social development. CUFA has worked extensively in the Pacific, with over 20 years’ experience in Papua New Guinea (PNG). During this time, CUFA has built a number of strong relationships with local civil society organisations which represent a number of industries across PNG.

Through these networks, CUFA will engage up to 10,000 youth between the ages of 15 to 25 in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville over two years

Contact us to learn more about our Bougainville Youth Initiative, and to discover know how you can help people like Quelyne fulfil their dreams.

“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation) “– Dr James Aggrey (Ghana)

Read more: Building pathways for youth in Bougainville



New Zealand Credit Union supports Women’s Scholarship in Fiji

The 9th Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress was held in Suva, Fiji, on 5-7 October 2016.  Over 110 participants from 14 countries attended to discuss and debate a variety of topics affecting financial cooperatives across the Pacific including governance, fraud, transparency, membership, marketing and leadership.

For the first time, a Women’s Scholarship was awarded.

Thanks to generous support from the New Zealand Credit Union Foundation, the Scholarship enabled a female leader from the financial cooperative sector to attend the Congress. The inaugural winner was Loreen Baniuri, an executive from the Vanuatu Teachers’ Union Credit Union.  Mrs Baniuri practised as a primary school teacher for 17 years in Vanuatu and in Australia, before joining the Vanuatu Teachers’ Union.  After several attempts at starting a borrowing scheme for members of the union, the VTU Credit Union was started in 2015. The Scholarship enabled Mrs Banuiri to participate in discussions and debates, as well as network with other credit union staff from across the region.  She hopes for a bright future for her Credit Union, which has been established to benefit members, their families and the larger community.

Carol Priest, a trustee of the New Zealand Credit Union Foundation, attended the Congress and was able to celebrate the Women’s Scholarship with Mrs Baniuri.  A big thank you to Carol and the trustees of the Foundation. After several attempts at starting a borrowing scheme for members of the union, the VTU Credit Union was started in 2015. The Scholarship enabled Mrs Banuiri to participate in discussions and debates, as well as network with other credit union staff from across the region.  She hopes for a bright future for her Credit Union, which has been established to benefit members, their families and the larger community. Carol Priest, a trustee of the New Zealand Credit Union Foundation, attended the Congress and was able to celebrate the Women’s Scholarship with Mrs Baniuri.

A big thank you to Carol and the trustees of the Foundation.


Team ASL inspires us all by completing the 140km Kokoda Trail

The reflections of Casey Mauger of ASL


It hasn’t been called a compelling personal pilgrimage or a life changing experience for nothing. The Kokoda Trail has a way of inspiring not only the people that take it but also others hearing about it.  This month, we bring to you the personal experiences of Team ASL, ardent supporters of CUFA, on their  intrepid journey in the wilderness of

The Kokoda Trail has a way of inspiring not only the people that take it but also others hearing about it.  This month, we bring to you the personal experiences of Team ASL, ardent supporters of CUFA, on their  intrepid journey in the wilderness of Papua New Guinea.

Walking the Kokoda Trail was on ASL CEO David Jay‘s bucket list. But he went on to do something that very few do, he dedicated this challenging trek to raise money for charity.  David’s campaign, aptly titled “Walk With Me”, aimed to raise $150,000.

Below is the account of David’s personal assistant, Casey Mauger, who completed the trip as part of Team ASL.

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