International Credit Union Day 2022: Armed conflict puts financial future of cooperators in the balance in Bamenda

By Bakah Derick 

For five years now, thousands of coopererators have not been able to assemble for the observance of the International credit union day in either the North West and SouthWest Regions of Cameroon. The last time such an observance took place in the city of Bamenda dates back to October 20, 2016 at the gestation stage of the ongoing armed conflict that has practically put the financial future of cooperators on the balance. 
For this long without any observance, many including top management of some credit unions seem to have forgotten about the event that brought together thousands of cooperators them from the different parts of the country annually  to celebrate their successes for the past year. 

During peace times, cooperators gathered under the umbrella organisation the Cameroon Cooperative Creadit Union League (CamCCUL) to feast, gain visibility and listen to the policy message of the General President. Like top management, cooperators have not had the privilege to assemble for another credit union day event. 

"Derick is today credit union day? I didn't even know Massa. This crisis has actually finished us. This was a day we used to celebrate but today I have even forgotten. Thank you for the reminder but sorry I cannot talk about it. My brother please understand with me." Anthony King Marc manager of a credit union in Bamenda told this reporter. 
Sources at the different cooperative credit unions we contacted say they could not celebrate again this 2022 because they have continued to suffer multiple types of victimisations. Cooperators like management staff and executive members have suffered kidnappings and paid huge ransoms to regain freedom. 

"I have been kidnapped once my brother and I cannot count the number of attempts on my person and family. Everyday it is from one issue to another. Our board members and staff  or their relatives suffer from one incident to another as a result of this conflict. I can't tell you how much money we have spent in handling issues connected to all these." The Manager continued


Reports of credit unions attacked by heavily armed persons are many. Some of the structures have been destroyed by crossfire. 
"We have just decided to be quiet. You remember the incident that happened around the food market with one of our sister credit union a few years back. We are not quiet because those things are not happening. They are happening that is why we are just quiet." He said 

Businesses and livelihoods have collapsed leading to high level and exponential delinquency rates. 

"The credit you is owned by the people and as you know businesses are not doing well and we will only be extremely wicket if we go arresting people because of loans. The level of delinquency is very high and you know that it is from the interest paid on these loans and other small things that we are able to pay transports and provide some food for members. Without the interests we cannot even being them together." Anthony regretted. 
These and others have forced many of the credit unions to go into serious restructuring, improving security while carrying out operations at a very low profile level. 


On the occasion of the 74th international credit union day, reflections are on the theme "Empower your financial future with a credit union." Unfortunately, the financial future of coopererators in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon are in a balance as the over six years old armed conflict show no signs of ending soon. 

The International credit union day is celebrated annually with the "goal to raise awareness about the tremendous work that credit unions and other financial cooperatives are doing around the world and give members the opportunity to get more engaged. The day of festivities for credit unions and financial cooperatives globally includes fundraisers, open houses, contests, picnics, volunteering and parades." The World Council of Credit Unions (WoCCU) states. 

Note: Anthony King Marc is a name we used only for the purpose of clarity and illustration. The manager spoke to us on condition of anonymity. 


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