The Credit Union Development Project is focused on developing local village savings banks, providing poor and rural communities with access to safe, fair and reliable banking facilities. Cufa initially began the project in 2011 in Cambodia before rolling out the project in Timor-Leste, then in Myanmar.
In all three countries, the project reaches communities which previously had no other village banks or access to financial institutions that could serve the needs of the poor and disadvantaged. In all countries, staff have been trained to encourage women to join their local village bank and participate in all training sessions provided by Cufa. Women are encouraged to voice opinions in meetings and training sessions, and some of the financial self-help groups are solely focused on women.
An extension of Cufa’s Credit Union Development is the Livelihood Project. The goal of the project is to strengthen the economic development of poor and disadvantaged men and women, in particular those with disabilities, through education, vocational and financial inclusion opportunities. Rural farmers are formed into livelihood groups, where they are visited by Cufa staff once a month. They are given support in a multitude of areas from marketing and business management to financial literacy. The participants are also introduced to a local village bank to provide a safe place to save money and opportunities for micro financing for their micro-enterprises.