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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Looking Glass: Why Ntarinkon Cooperative Credit Union was Honoured as Fastest, Most People Oriented People's Credit Union

Fai Cassian Ndi
President and Vice flanked by Publisher of The Guardian Post

The founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus is known throughout the world as the man who innovated the micro-credit concept. He knew that by providing small loans to the poorest of poor at affordable interest rates could transform the lives of impoverished people, mostly women. The founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Yunus and Grameen were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
The credit union movement in Cameroon has succeeded in a similar task in bridging not only the gap between the rich and the poor, but above all in providing savings and loan facilities to the rural and urban poor. The right to loan and credit is a human development factor that if taken into consideration the promoters of the credit union movements in Cameroon may not be far from winning a Nobel Peace Prize for their worthwhile contribution. 
One of such credit unions that is creating an impact is the Ntarinkon Cooperative Credit Union LTD, NTACCUL. Last February, The Guardian Post Newspaper at its National Achievement Awards distinguished NTACCUL as the fastest, Most People Oriented People's Credit Union. Present in Buea to receive the prestigious award was the President, Cletus Anye Matoya. Not only was the credit Union awarded, its General Manager, Divine Ade was also honoured as the Best GM of the Year (Read separate write on the GM). 
It is widely acclaimed that he/she who lacks money lacks everything. The credit union movement is without doubts the best thing that ever happened in the fight to alleviate poverty. Access to loan and credit is very important. If you look in the North West today, I would say probably two-thirds of the population have access to financial services thanks to the credit union. But that's the first thing that we should take care of. Money begets money. If you don't have that, you wait around to be hired by somebody at the mercy of others. If you have that money in your hand, you desperately try to make the best use of it and move ahead. And especially when you know where you can keep it and take it when the need arises. Or when you know that there is a place where you seek solace and your problems are solved thanks to others. 

At the Service of the Poor
Cletus Anye Matoya: President of the Board in Buea
All human beings are very creative—full of potential, full of energy...So, money kind of allows them to express it ... And if you're successful, you can take more money. You can expand your capacity, reach next level of capacity, and so on. Members of the Ntarinkon Credit Union have experienced all these positive changes. This is because the credit has members and not costumers as they are part of the business. Being a member means you also have the right to take part in decisions, and management as well. At NTACCUL membership is not only fast to acquire, it is done at almost at no fee. It is on record for being fast in granting loans to members if the necessary requirements are fulfilled and at very low interest rate. Those who take loans and pay promptly are always encouraged. NTACCUL gives loans to individuals and groups as well. That is why its members have been able to acquire plots, build houses and even set up businesses. Even civil servant that who could never have had loans to carryout lofty projects for their families are in given special considerations by the credit union. Their salaries are paid promptly, loans and overdrafts acquired without stress and they can equally withdraw money from their savings like any other members. 
With the fast growing membership and to enable members access some services even on Sundays, NTACCUL is about to introduce automated Teller machines. Worthy to note that NTACCUL also introduced Western Union money transfer services in its branches. This is to curb down the stress parents with children, friends or family members go to cash money transferred to them. Through this services, it is easy for members who are in the diasporas to carryout savings and other transactions. The credit has not only current accounts for civil servants but also provides deposit accounts for them. The GM describes the present day Ntarinkon Credit Union as a one stop shop while the President Cletus Anye Matoya says NTACCUL manages risks for members, give advice and act as guarantee for members. 

Growth/Performance
A critical look at the geometric increase in membership speaks by itself. In 2013 for example membership stood at 27, 000 and barely two years after membership by December 31, 2015 stood at 37, 953. Speculations are rife at that by the end of this year, membership would have risen to 47, 000 and above. This increase in membership is reflected in the savings of members and shares. By December 31, 2015 total share savings stood at FCFA 10 billion up from FCFA 8 billion in 2014. 
NTACCUL has been a subject of research for many, many years now. Volumes have been written about it. PhDs have been made out of it strive to alleviate poverty. 
The results have been compelling because all the studies show that income level in members is rising constantly and that in three months NTACCUL will be a small paradise on earth. To say NTACCUL members are coming out of poverty is to use the weakest diction ever to describe a humanitarian act. Even the President Cletus Anye Matoya said it at the last AGM that more than 25 percent of those who borrow wisely and pay prompt are coming out of poverty every year, which means, every day, every week more and more families are getting out. NTACCUL is a simple but an awesomely powerful example of the concept of the credit union movement in Cameroon. As described here in detail, it appears to be an answer to alleviating poverty in a wide number of circumstances. 
Yunus exposed the banking myth that only loans to the rich backed by collateral are both secure and likely to return a profit. Starting with just £17 he began lending money to the poor in Bangladesh with a repayment rate of around 99%. Acknowledged now as a major contribution to the fight against poverty Yunus's thesis is that hand outs to the poor patronise, disincentivise and are as much about allowing donors to feel they are doing their little bit to help fight poverty as they are about addressing the core problem of what keeps people poor. Micro loans, he advocates, spark initiative and encourage the very type of enterprise that will lift people out of poverty for good. But NTACCUL has gone beyond that to tackle both the urban and rural poor through its branches in major cities in the country. 
And like the Grameen Bank,  success is coming to NTACCUL LTD after tremendously hard work, dogged determination and huge collaboration from members who see themselves as owners and not costumers.
NTACCUL President, Vice President and GM flanked by staff representative of some branches based in the South West


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