By Angelo Moniz Jong, CUFA Timor Leste Country Program Manager

CUFA’s savings mobilization program in partnership with Federasaun Hanai Malu (FHM), the peak body of Credit Union Movement in Timor Leste, commenced in March 2012. The aim of the program is to improve membership levels and increase savings in order for credit unions to grow and reach more people in their community. Through the program, CUFA provides credit unions with different incentives when various milestones of growth are achieved.

CUFA’s Timor Country Program Manager, Angelo Moniz Jong provides us with an insight on the project’s progress and achievements to date.

Now in its second year the program has started to see some promising results, with 7 of the 10 credit unions in both rural and urban locations showing significant progress in increasing both membership and saving levels. Across the 7 credit unions membership has increased on average by 53% and actual member savings averaging an impressive 93.8% increase.

Not only have savings and membership levels increased but we have also observed that many of these credit unions have also improved their service product offerings to members, diversified their products and services, made improvements to operational and management structures and expanded their outreach program.

The success in increasing membership and savings has not happened overnight though, and is the result of lots of hard work from the board members, committee members and of course Martinho Soares, our Credit Union Outreach Project Coordinator who has travelled right across Timor-Leste to support credit unions in improving their operations.

Recently Martinho and I were fortunate to attend the annual general meetings of Fini Naroman, Tau Fini ba Futuru, KUC, Lanamona, Domi-Huhun, Nilda and Ira-Luca credit unions and reward them on reaching the first milestones under CUFA’s incentive program.

In recognition of increasing membership by at least 100 members and average member savings of $50, we presented the board and committee members with t-shirts embroiled with their credit union names. The board and committee members were really appreciative of the gesture and are excited to wear the t-shirts to further promote their credit unions to more community members.

As the credit unions continue to grow, it is anticipated that CUFA will continue to expand the motivational program and range of incentives such as safes and motorbikes to assist in reaching remote communities.

We’d like to congratulate all participating credit unions for their dedication and commitment in achieving these increases in the past two years and hopeful that the inventive program as well continued collaboration with credit unions will continue lead to increased savings and membership that will help build a sustainable credit union movement in Timor-Leste.

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