By Ms Lotonu’u, General Manager of Samoan Teachers Credit Union
“Seeing first-hand how TISA operates across its departments and how it serves its members with the available products and services available was an eye-opening and enriching experience”.
As the peak body for pacific credit unions, OCCUL (Oceania Confederation of Credit Union League) provides support services and representation to the region. OCCUL acts as the focal point for Pacific credit unions to network, share ideas and to learn and assist each other in their operations.
In April, OCCUL (with the support of TISA and CUFA) facilitated a study tour for Ms Lotonu’u, the General Manager of Samoan Teachers Credit Union (STCU) to visit the Teachers Savings & Loan Society (TISA), Credit Data Bureau and Federation for Savings &Loans Societies (FESALOS) in Papua New Guinea. The study tour provided Ms Lotonu’u an opportunity to gain an insight on the promotion and strengthening of savings and loan societies that operate to assist in enhancing the social-economic needs of members in PNG.
Ms Lotonu’u spoke with OCCUL’s Technical Manager, Mr Amal Kumar about her experience.
Seeing first-hand how TISA operates across its departments and how it serves its members with the available products and services available was an eye-opening and enriching experience.
I was provided with the opportunity to view the information system currently used by TISA for its membership and I was impressed with the set-up, especially since my credit union (STCU) still uses a manual system to keep member records and files. TISA was participating in a charity event for the Heart Foundation while I was visiting, and I fortunate to be extended an invitation to attend, an added bonus of my time with TISA.
The visit also provided me the opportunity to visit the Credit Data Bureau where I was shown how the Credit Data Bureau database operates and how it provides information to its members and stakeholders for the purpose of making informed credit and business decisions. Spending time with the FESALOS team, I was able to see how they operate and observe some of the great work they undertake to assist their membership.
The trip provided me the opportunity to reflect on the similarities and differences between the credit union movements in PNG and Samoa. The similarities are that credit union movements in both countries share the same purpose of bringing opportunities of financial stability to communities and people suffering from poverty due to the lack of financial choices available while the differences noticed were the size, structure and operations.
The TISA is a huge savings and loans Society compared to Samoa Teachers Credit union; it has full staff, is well-structured and properly regulated given its compliance with the PNG Central Bank regulations while the credit unions in Samoa are not controlled by the country’s Reserve Bank.
Attending the study tour was a great opportunity for me to explore new possibilities and exposure to the work of Teachers Savings and Loan Society certainly broadened my knowledge on the key concepts and components of a good credit union system and also developed ideas on ways to improving organisation outcomes in my credit union.
I’m hopeful that similar study tours continue for the credit union movement in the Pacific as I believe the valuable lessons learned, networking and engagement that such events provide will allow us to learn from each other and will certainly aid in the improvement and advancement of credit union work across the region.
I sincerely appreciate the efforts made by both OCCUL and TISA in the implementation of the study tour and I warmly acknowledge and commend the hospitality and overwhelming support shown by my PNG colleagues.
Being part of a valuable initiative will without a doubt help me in developing my credit union, STCU in Samoa.