Welcome to CCA’s international development blog page devoted to the Uganda/Malawi Coaching program. Enjoy the sights and sounds, the people and places as experienced by 3 credit union volunteers on the frontline of development.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Robert visits the Sunbird Tourism SACCO

Hello! Paul and I are currently working at the Sunbird Tourism SACCO main branch in Blantyre, Malawi. The SACCO Manager is Mr. Henock Chakhaza. He has three employees, one accountant (Getrude Chiomba) and two clerks. The two employees Paul and I primarily deal with are Henock and Getrude.
The Sunbird Tourism SACCO is a closed-bond SACCO, meaning that there are limitations as to which members of the community can join the SACCO. As the name would suggest, this SACCO is open to employees of the Sunbird Hotel chain. They have two branches: One in the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe, and the one we are working at, which is in a tiny office, located in the basement of the Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre. There are seven (7) Sunbird Hotels in Malawi, which makes Sunbird one of the largest hotel chains in the country. All of the employees working at any and all of these hotel locations are able to bank with the Sunbird Tourism SACCO. The hotels have a courier system between their hotel branches, which the members and the SACCO staff are able to use to send documentation (new account, loan, deposit, etc.) and money (for loan payments, loan advances, deposits). So how does this all work? Good question…

So, for example, let's say Paul Innes, an employee of the Sunbird Hotel Mzuzu, works and lives in the Northern region. If he wants a loan, he simply fills out the loan application, sends it in the courier bag from Mzuzu to Blantyre, and waits for Mr. Chakhaza and the Sunbird Tourism SACCO credit committee to review the application and either advance or decline the loan. If the loan is advanced, a cheque will be sent through the courier system from Blantyre to Mzuzu, and Paul will be able to cash the cheque and make his purchase.

Loan payments are made directly off of the staff's pay cheques. So if an employee had 1,250MWK owed to her at the end of the month, and her loan payment was 250MWK/month, she would receive net pay of 1,000MWK. This practice has kept the SACCOs delinquency and loan default rates very low, which is great! Paul and I are in the processes of piecing together our recommendations, as we will be presenting to the board on Friday!

Henock will be showing us around Blantyre tomorrow. The highlight should include the following:
  • Orphanage – where Paul and I will be donating soccer balls, among other items!
  • Presbyterian Church – apparently it is very large and Blantyre is known for this huge church!
  • Anglican Church – Paul is Anglican, so this will be really cool for him!
  • Tour de Blantyre – This isn't a location… rather, a reference that we'll get to drive around and explore this city.
Another highlight – I'll be attending the Blantyre Rotary Club meeting tomorrow at 12:30pm. I forgot everything that associates me with the Rotary club at home (idiot!!!!!) so I hope they take my word for it that I'm a Rotarian!

I have included two photos with this entry. The first is the view outside of my hotel room! Beautiful! The second is a picture of Getrude and the two other clerks we are working with. Getrude is on the right!

Okay! Back to work! Later,


Anna said...

Hi Rob!

I just stumbled across your blog as I was on the CCA website - Its great to see that you are back in Malawi! I miss it. I am working for CCA in Ghana now, and I am the Gender Officer at the Ghana Credit Unions Association. We just had the coaches visiting here, which was fun.

Hope you are having a great trip - say hello to all the coaches from last year for me!

Robert Christiansen said...

Hey Anna! Nice to hear from you! Thanks for the comment! All the best in Ghana.

I'll be sure to pass on your greetings!