SCU in Timor Leste: Helping Others Through Financial Education

By Chayathri Kulatunge

Are you considering becoming a skilled volunteer? Do you want to make a difference? Here is what Sumitha De Silva had to say about his own experience as a skilled volunteer in Timor Leste.

Keen to share his 21 years of experience in Banking and Finance, Sumitha De Silva an Internal Audit Manager at SCU, supported CUFA in providing technical assistance to Timor Leste as a skilled volunteer.

In December, Sumitha travelled to Dili, Timor Leste, and over the course of a two-day workshop introduced and discussed financial practices including Risk Management and Internal Auditing. Participants in the workshop included members of the peak body of credit unions in Timor Leste, Federation Hanai Malu. Specifically, presentations and group work sessions were conducted outlining the notion of risk and risk management, identifying financial risk faced by  the community credit unions, as well as developing risk management strategies and tools for controlling risk.

Furthermore, the concept of internal auditing was introduced as a recommended mechanism for providing assurance to management that risk management measures and controls are working effectively. Additionally, participants were presented with practical instruments in the form of Internal Audit Programs  and Community Audit Reports.

By encouraging the development of credit unions and providing training for people to manage their money, they can save towards a brighter and fruitful future. When Justina Martin (Credit Union League, Timor Leste) reflected on her participation in the workshop she commented that “we learnt that we should not lend all of the deposit funds and keep a certain amount to meet emergency withdrawals… after the training I realised that the auditing process is not so difficult, so from now on I can use the auditing structures and risk management tools for my credit union”.

Federation Hanai Malu was created prior to the conflicts of 1999, however has remained inactive until recently. The capacity of the Federation continues to be strengthened, by the likes of CUFA and Sumitha, so as to provide affordable and reliable services to its member credit unions.  Sumitha states  that he was genuinely surprised by the ongoing efforts of the Federation’s volunteers, their humble attitude and the eagerness to learn.   Sumitha believes the practices discussed at the workshop will be implemented  by local credit unions in Timor Leste.

Sumitha was motivated to become a skilled volunteer by his desire to give back to the community, travel to a different country to experience their culture, broaden his perspective, and also by a professional interest to understand better the mechanisms employed by the  credit unions with smaller, financial infrastructures.

Do you share Sumitha’s motivations and like to find out more about CUFA’s programs in the Asia Pacific region?  To find out more about how you too can challenge yourself and make a difference visit

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