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ILCU Foundation to role out Women’s Economic Empowerment programme in East Africa

Posted on: 19 Oct 2023

International Credit Union Day, Thursday, 19 October 2023: The ILCU Foundation, the international development arm of the Irish League of Credit Unions, in partnership with the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), have announced the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) programme in East Africa.

The programme which is funded by Irish Aid, will promote women’s financial inclusion in three countries - Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda by ensuring they have access to affordable financial services. Irish Aid has committed to total funding of €2.5 million.

Making the announcement on International Credit Union Day, Minister Sean Fleming TD, Minister of State for International Development and Diaspora said: “Irish Aid is proud to fund this programme, which will have a significant impact in the lives of women in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda. This programme will support women in rural areas to access credit. The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) plays a vital role in communities across Ireland and we are delighted to support the ILCU Foundation in bringing this expertise to communities in East Africa. We are also proud to collaborate with IFAD in this initiative, in support of women’s economic empowerment in East Africa.”

Pictured at the annoucmenet were Margaret Heffernan, ILCU Foundation Board, Alan Moore, CEO, ILCU Foundation, Seán Fleming, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Christine Barretto, ILCU Foundation Board

The ILCU Foundation and IFAD have extensive expertise in rural finance and are experienced in promoting women’s financial and economic empowerment. The ILCU Foundation will be responsible for the rural finance technical assistance component of the programme. Aimed at improving access to financial services for smallholder households, its purpose is to help women, to diversify their income generation activities and to play a greater role in their local economies. This will be achieved by building capacity to promote an inclusive, modern, and sustainable rural financial sector. Support provided by the ILCU Foundation includes technical support, peer exchanges and training.

Alan Moore, CEO, ILCU Foundation said; “We are delighted and grateful to be part of this important initiative which is aimed at ensuring rural women have access to affordable financial services. Credit unions play an important role within their communities to provide

access to secure savings and affordable loans and this project will support women in rural communities in East Africa to be financially included. Ireland has had a proud tradition of development work in Africa, and we look forward to partnering with Irish Aid, IFAD and local partners on-the-ground to implement this project and work towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

Satu Santala, Associate Vice President for External Relations and Governance, IFAD said; “IFAD welcomes Ireland’s continued support and contribution to women’s economic empowerment in East Africa. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Ireland and the Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation to implement this new initiative and support rural women’s access to financial services.”




About The ILCU Foundation

The ILCU Foundation was set up in the 1980s by the Irish League of Credit Unions to share the success of the Irish Credit Union movement by supporting similar movements in low-income developing countries. Recognising the success and the difference that the Irish Credit Union movement has and continues to make on the island of Ireland, the work of the ILCU Foundation is supported and made possible by the generous donations from the Irish Credit Union movement.

The work undertaken by the ILCU Foundation is to develop and support strong, secure and sustainable credit unions to provide much-needed access to financial services for individuals, and their families and help reduce poverty, much in the same way the credit union movement brought financial services to rural communities and towns across the island of Ireland when it was established over 60 years ago.

The ILCU Foundation has a proven track record supporting credit union development over the past 30 years, mostly in West Africa and Eastern Europe. Over the past fifteen years the ILCU Foundation has implemented projects in Sierra Leone, Gambia & Albania co-funded by Irish Aid and Irish Credit Unions. In addition, over the last decade the ILCU Foundation has worked closely with IFAD to support credit union development in Ethiopia.


*SACCO is the term used for credit unions in many East African countries.