On Friday am Gene and I were off to meet with the people at the Madina Teachers CU. We were met at the gate by the Chairman of the Board, Mr David Addo. He introduced us to the Manageress Victoria Abugre and the staff Charles and Rainer.
Other members of the board soon arrived and introductions were made. The board is 5 members, all teachers and an ex-officio member who is a past board member. The structure of the bylaws has all of the board members terms coming due at the same time. This board were all elected at the same election and the former board members had all served on the board for their maximum of two four year terms in succession.
The new board welcomed us and seemed very keen to gain a better understanding of how their CU could be made better. We all sat in their meeting room and discussed their history, their challenges and opportunities for the future.
The CU has about 1470 members, mostly teachers but they are an open bond society that has members that are not teachers. The teachers are paid by the government and they serve teachers in about 150 schools in the area. The schools are smaller than what we would know in Canada but structured as basic, elementary and secondary.
The CU primarily serves the teachers in the community but has some members from the community. Their growth will come from the community and increasing the savings of the current members. As was the case with the Animal Research Institute, this board was keen, committed and well educated. They did express a bit of a sense of surprise at the time needed to fulfill their duties as members of the board and committees on which they served. I expect that some of this came from the fact that they were all new and there were some troubles and issues that needed to be addressed.
The loan delinquency was about 37%. More than a third of all of the loans that were outstanding were late in repayment by more than 14 days. They still had loans on the books that were nearly 5 years late in repayment. Some very difficult decisions needed to be made and to the credit of the board, they made those decisions. The manager was sacked and all loans more that 12 months delinquent were written off. This write off created an overall loss for the year. That impacts their ability to pay a dividend to the members like our patronage. In the past, they have paid a dividend of 10% on the members shares. The members can invest in the CU by holding more than the minimum share requirement of GH¢100 (about $50 Cdn). Both Gene and I reached for our wallets as were told them about the rates of return possible in Canada today.
But as they made a difficult decision to take the write down and create a loss in 2012, they have positioned themselves for success in the future. Our impression was very positive as they had created a well documented business plan for the year. They had recruited Victoria and she has great education, experience and skills. After the meeting with the board, we had the chance to spend some time with her alone to gain a little more of the operational perspective. She is a keeper and we will include that in our report.
After a full day, at about 4:30 we headed out of Accra to spend the weekend near Cape Coast. About a 150 kms from Accra – we arrived to the hotel at about 8:25. Seems everyone had the same idea to leave Accra on Friday night and remember it is a city of 2,000,000 and the Greater Accra distruct is over 4,000,000.
The plan was to meet with another team of coaches, Derek and Anthony who were in Swedru about 2 hours from Cape Coast.