Valley First

Valley First Hosts Credit Union Leader

Valley First hosts credit union leader from Ghana during international mentor exchange
June 6, 2013

Penticton, B.C.—This week, Valley First is hosting Martha Kwaw, branch manageress of Ghana’s Shama Community Co-operative Credit Union (SHACCU). Kwaw is visiting the Okanagan as part of the Canadian Co-operative Association’s (CCA) Women’s Mentorship Program.

During her visit, Martha will be based in Kelowna with her host, Valley First’s Jocelynn Wells. While she has a lot planned for her 10-day trip, Kwaw hopes to learn more about the Canadian credit union industry and how she can help her organization back home become more sustainable and self reliant.

Kwaw says: “My personal objective is to combine skills and experiences gained over the years to be of service to my company and mankind at large.”Wells is enthusiastic about the exchange and is looking forward to the mutual learning opportunity: “I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s program and be able to host Martha,” says Wells. “I wanted to play host last year, but the timing didn’t work out. When the opportunity came up again this year, I jumped at the chance.

“And, what a great opportunity it has been to meet someone from another country, learn about their culture and welcome them to Canada. I’m eager to show Martha around the Okanagan and how we do business at Valley First. I’m sure I will learn as much from her as she will from me.”

However, it isn’t all about work for Kwaw and Wells, they’ve managed to enjoy some downtime, too. Outside the credit union offices, Kwaw has showed off her cooking skills, visited local wineries and gone to a movie—a first—and enjoyed the Kelowna market.

Valley First’s parent company, First West, has been a longtime supporter of the CCA, contributing over $305,000 to its international development efforts over the last decade. In past years, First West leaders have travelled to Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Botswana to participate in the credit union coaching program and a women’s leadership forum, sharing information and learning from co-operatives overseas.

Additionally, First West Credit Union recently announced a donation of $50,000 to the Co-operative Development Foundation (CDF) of Canada’s Build a Better World campaign, as part of an overall $150,000 commitment to the program over three years. The initiative endeavors to raise $12 million over four years to help alleviate global poverty and support the development of co-operatives and credit unions in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Women’s Mentorship Program began in 2002 after the CCA noted that there was a lack of professional development for women in African and Asia. A plan was made to connect credit union women leaders in developing countries with Canadian credit union knowledge and expertise. This year, 16 women from eight countries will be participating in this program, bringing the total number of participants to 176 women from 18 countries since the program’s inception.

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 40 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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