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                STRATEGIC PLAN

              “A Three Year Strategy 2010-2012”

MAY 2010
                                   LIST OF CONTENTS


1.     INTRODUCTION                                            4


3.     ACTIVITIES TO END-2012                                  6

3.1    Activities within Ireland                               6

3.2    Activities Overseas                                     7

3.3    Broadening our Funding Base 2010-2012                   8

4.     THE OVERSEAS PROGRAMME                                  8

4.1    Resource Re-alignment                                   8

4.2    New Project Selection Criteria                          9

4.3    Albania Strategy                                        9

4.4    Ethiopia Strategy                                     10

4.5    Gambia Strategy                                       10

4.6    Ghana Strategy                                        11

4.7    Russia Strategy                                       11

4.8    Sierra Leone Strategy                                 12

4.9    More Strategic Use of Small Projects Grants           12

4.10   Training                                              13

4.11   Microfinance and Co-operatives                   14

4.12   Gender                                           15

4.13   Irish Aid Hunger Strategy                        15

5.     BEST INTERNATIONAL PRACTICE                      16

5.1    Overall NGO Development Aid                      16

5.2    The ILCUF                                        17

6.     COMMUNICATIONS                                   17

7.     RESOURCES                                        19

8.     GOVERNANCE                                       20

9.     INNOVATION AND LEARNING                          20

10.    NETWORKS                                         21

11.    IMPLEMENTATION PLAN                              22

12.    CONCLUSION                                       23

APPENDIX I      PERSONS INTERVIEVED                     24

APPENDIX II     GLOSSARY OF TERMS                       25




This Strategic Plan 2010-2012 was formulated by the Board and staff of the Irish League of Credit Unions
International Development Foundation (ILCUF) in late 2009. The process was facilitated by an external
specialist and grant-aided by Enterprise Ireland. The Board‟s central objective in undertaking this project
was to build broad consensus on an appropriate future direction for the ILCUF; and to derive and plan
actions which would best deliver the movements international development mandate in the most efficient
and effective manner.       The methodology included desk research, issues papers, interviews of key
stakeholders, detailed discussions with overseas partners and the ILCUF Board.

2.     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Strategic Objectives to end-2012

The ILCUF will work to enhance our core activities overseas and in Ireland in a more effective and
innovative manner with the following strategic objectives;

            review partner and resource allocation across all of our six long-term international projects,
               with a view to targeting our limited but specialised resources in areas of greatest need and

            re-focus our efforts on in-country and regional training, as the core medium through which
               the ILCUF transfers knowledge and skills to its partners overseas. We will improve the
               quality and quantity of training, review methodologies and examine effectiveness,
               relevance and compliance with best practice;

            help women farmers with whom we engage gain better access to credit and thereby
               improve food security for their families and communities;

            create a deeper bond and communication between the ILCUF and credit union people and
               cultivate better public understanding of the movement‟s international development
               initiatives in these challenging economic times;

            sustain, grow and diversify our funding base;

            build and strengthen our International partnership with the Canadian Cooperative
               Association (CCA) with whom we work in Ghana and Sierra Leone;

            develop a communications strategy to improve our engagement with credit unions and
               enhance their sense of ownership of the work of the ILCUF;

            prioritise resources towards those small projects, which have the potential to generate
               greater strategic value for our overall development objectives;

            seek to develop project co-operation and harmonisation with all appropriate bodies
               including World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) in line with international
               development best practice;

            ensure that ILCUF initiatives bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of the
               world‟s poorest people with whom we engage.

These strategic objectives will be supported by the following initiatives:

       develop as a pilot project a “Foundation Advocate” programme by year end 2010, mobilising one
        well-informed and locally respected volunteer in Chapter Regions to systematically promote
        ILCUF with credit unions in Ireland; (Appendix IV).
       reinforce ILCUF‟s growing reputation with Irish Aid, up to and including Ministerial level;
        (Section 3.3).
       re-frame the small projects grants to facilitate wider strategic objectives and to attract multilateral
        funding for projects in specific countries; (Section 4.9).
       research a distance-learning programme, based on the ACCUP model, suited to specific regional
        needs; (Section 4.10).
       extend the outreach and scope of ILCUF to the wider social credit sector; (Section 4.11).
       consider adaptation of the aid effectiveness strategy in line with the Paris and Accra “Agendas for
        Action”; (Section 5.1).
         commission non-permanent project management assignments to augment the staffing resources of
          the ILCUF inter alia to seek multi-lateral funding; (Section 7).
         source external senior overseas development expertise, to augment ILCUF‟s existing credit union
          experience, for specific ILCUF projects as appropriate; (Section 7).
         undertake the establishment of a wholly-owned NI subsidiary to secure better buy-in and assist
          ILCUF access to UK funding for future projects; (Section 8).
         initiate one significant innovation, learning and/or research exercise during each year of this plan;
          (Section 9).
         research the merits of joining the Eastern and Western European micro-finance bodies; (Section

3.        ACTIVITIES TO END-2012

3.1       Activities within Ireland

In Ireland we will develop communications with credit unions in order to improve their sense of
commitment to and ownership of the work of the ILCUF. The ILCUF will also attempt to broaden its
funding base in order to counter the recession-induced drop in total income.

Overall there are four key elements that ILCUF will pursue:
         proactively build on an improving reputation and close relationship with Irish Aid;
         develop and implement a communications strategy, of which activity around the Foundation
          Advocates pilot project will be a critical factor;
         engage two additional part-time personnel funded from sources other than the Irish League of
          Credit Unions (ILCU);
         introduce more overseas development expertise into the ILCUF.

One consistent theme emerging from the research is the need to improve the relationship and enhance
communications between the ILCUF and ILCU credit unions. Improving the quality and expanding the
quantity of communications is seen as the best means of encouraging ongoing commitment and financial

support from credit unions. A core activity in this respect will be to develop a new volunteer Foundation
Advocate scheme in 2010 and to ultimately grow this to cover the six Chapter regions. The Advocate
scheme will be additional to and not a replacement for the ILCUF‟s existing work in terms of
communication and promotion.

The performance indicators for the ILCUF‟s work in Ireland will include targets for:
         more effective contact and engagement with those credit unions which as of 2008/9 were non-
         limiting the 2010 fall in ILCUF income from credit unions to 15%;
         securing Irish Aid grants for a minimum of two programmes by the end of 2012;
         increasing the income from all sources for 2012 to €900,000.

3.2       Activities Overseas

As a niche player in overseas development the ILCUF needs to target our limited but specialized resources
in areas of greatest need and potential. The overseas portfolio will continue broadly as before but with the
following enhancements:
         a major review of three partner-countries leading to appropriate programme changes in targeting
          our limited resources in areas of greatest need and potential;
         re-focus on multilateral funding in those countries in which it is justified by need on the ground;
         strengthen our relationship with the CCA in practical ground-level co-operation overseas,
          assuming clear positive results in Ghana and Sierra Leone;
         a substantial capacity-building programme focused on the new Training Centre in Accra, Ghana, to
          be funded multilaterally;
         more strategic use of small projects grants;
         increased focus on the aid effectiveness agenda outlined in section 5.1.

The performance indicators for the ILCUF‟s work overseas will include:
         completion of review of Russian, Gambian and Albanian projects;
         consequent programmes under way or about to commence in three new locations;

         multi-lateral funded project achievements;
         a major training project under way at the new Credit Union Training Centre in Accra;
         restructuring of Board Policy in line with more strategic use of the small projects grants.

3.3       Broadening our Funding Base 2010-2012

The main potential funding sources for the ILCUF are credit unions in Ireland, Irish Aid and multilateral
development bodies. Total ILCUF contributions from the credit unions fell significantly in 2009 to
€836,000 from just over €1million previously. Irish Aid commanded a generous fast-growing volume of
Irish Government funds in the years up to 2009 which, at the outset of the 2010-2012 period, had been cut
back substantially. This has had a negative effect on the ILCUF‟s income, Albania is currently under
consideration with regard to the funding period of 2010-2012.

The multilateral bodies have played no part over recent years despite previous successful experiences,
which included EU support for The Gambia and Russia. Our best prospects for accessing such funding up
to 2012 will be in the existing partner-countries. The ILCUF will be able to point to its track record on the
ground, and the case will be strengthened by joint approaches alongside our partner-agencies.

Commencing 2010, the ILCUF will apply systematically for multilateral funding for its work overseas, to
add to the primary support from ILCU credit unions. The initial step will be to assess, prospects in the
existing six partner-countries, through desk-research study. Fresh multilateral support will be sought,
jointly with our partners for new ILCUF project work yet to be identified. The aim is to maximize our
funding from both Irish credit unions and external sources. This exercise should quickly establish the
potential for such multilateral funding in any suggested “new” partner-countries.


4.1       Resource Re-alignment

The most substantial and valued work of the ILCUF is significant-scale, credit union focused, technical
assistance programmes. Currently this is limited to six countries, four in Africa and two in Eastern

Europe. This geographical limitation, to six partner-countries, will continue and is in compliance with
best practice internationally.

Prior to end-2012, the ILCUF will aim to disengage with our existing Albanian, Gambian and Russian
projects; (Section 4.3, 4.5 and 4.7). The ILCUF‟s partners in these locations are already aware of this aim
and discussions now address the implications but not the principle.

4.2          New Project Selection Criteria

The overall objective is to commence work in three new locations before the end of 2012, whilst ensuring
         the number of programmes in Eastern Europe remains at two. This objective reflects current
          practice and values among most aid agencies, particularly if aid is targeted on relatively poor
          Eastern European regions.     In the case of the ILCUF, this argument is strengthened by the
          emphasis in credit union development on democratic governance and spin-off in civil society
          promotion, core requirements in the economic transition in the East.

         the pace of project reallocation is managed to ensure in so far as possible that only six major
          resource consuming projects are managed by ILCUF at any one time.

The selection criteria which the board will use when considering new countries/projects are presented in
Appendix III “Framework for Selection of New Countries”.

4.3       Albania Strategy

The ILCUF will, prior to any exit, continue to build on the success of its Albanian programme. An
application for project funding was rejected by Irish Aid in summer 2009 for a further three year period, in
spite of a highly promising meeting in July of that year at Irish Aid headquarters in Limerick. The
principle learning from the Albanian programme which ILCUF will carry forward into 2010 and later is
that although the Irish intervention has produced very positive outcomes in terms of generation within a
decade of a near-sustainable credit union movement, it has been at a cost. Given that Jehona, as the new

apex body had to be built from scratch, this did require more external funding than if we had partnered
with an existing body.

4.4       Ethiopia Strategy

As a strategy the Ethiopia model of ILCUF intervention differs from the approach taken in Albania. In
Ethiopia, the ILCUF works through the Anglo-Irish NGO Self Help Africa and an indigenous credit union
structure. Similar to the intervention models we used in Ghana and Russia, this is likely to provide better
value for money to the ILCUF.

ILCUF expects to be in Ethiopia for a considerable time; while the work is of high quality, the ILCUF has
not yet been there long enough to have made a decisive contribution to the development of indigenous
capacity. A large number of co-operatives exist in Ethiopia, but the ILCUF input has the merit of helping
the genuinely poor in a drought-prone region to the south of Addis Ababa. Equally, the borrowers in the
SACCOs (Savings and Credit Co-operative Organisations) are virtually all women, many of whom show a
lot of courage in opposing local moneylenders. The project thereby complies with two criteria of best
international practice – gender, and a poverty focus.

In recent years the project has been “on-lending” borrowed funds as well as members‟ savings. This
approach will be carefully monitored and if judged successful, the ILCUF may consider its use elsewhere.
WOCCU is making use of “matched savings” in a number of locations; the outcomes there will also be

4.5       Gambia Strategy

A dependence on the ILCUF has developed and a disengagement strategy is needed. An approach to
achieving this will include the following:

         to continue funding for the project until the end of 2012 on an annually diminishing scale;
         to fund an Impact Assessment commissioned jointly by the ILCUF and its Gambian partner, to
          provide a present and future-focused analysis rather than a history. This will be carried out
          without delay and will involve inviting representatives of credit unions which have participated,

          and all other stakeholders. A critical issue for the ILCUF will be to identify ways to further
          safeguard members‟ savings;
         although the ILCUF itself will not participate in any multilaterally-funded work in Gambia after
          2012, the impact assessment will provide detailed guidelines on identifying and approaching both
          multilateral funders and possible bilateral aid programmes which will operate in Gambia in future
         up to the end of 2012, the ILCUF will actively assist its Gambian partner(s) in preparing detailed
          applications to external funders.

4.6       Ghana Strategy

In this case, the ILCUF operates with the CCA and channels its input via our Canadian partners.

An overall strategic objective involves making the ILCUF‟s training contribution more effective. In
particular, compliance with international best practice will involve improving in-country and in-region
training. It is also intended to focus more sharply on training the trainers. Assuming agreement with
CCA, a major opportunity will exist to achieve this, starting in 2010, in the context of the recently-
constructed Credit Union Training Centre near Accra. This facility will eventually be residential and is
intended to provide training not only for the c. 350 credit unions in Ghana but also for the West Africa
region. Construction was completed in 2009 but the real work began in 2010 on curriculum development;
staffing; securing on-going funding; marketing courses both nationally and regionally; development of
training materials; equipment; etc.       The ILCUF will develop a programme of supplying short-term
trainers, as well as programme funding over the term of this strategy.

4.7       Russia Strategy

The Russian programme is in reality three projects with self-sustainability probable by 2011 if the Russian
economy is not further weakened by the recession. The strategic objective will be to begin disengaging
from the three Russian regions in 2010, allowing a holding role in 2011 for monitoring and evaluation

Our partners request that disengagement should not be abrupt. They put a high value on their study tours
to Ireland and their senior personnel are impressed by ILCU training, especially the modular content of the
Advanced Certificate in Credit Union Practice (ACCUP), accredited by the University of Ulster. They
would be very interested in accessing a distance-learning version of this initiative.

4.8       Sierra Leone Strategy

Sierra Leone is the most recent country project and is undertaken by the ILCUF in partnership with CCA.
This project complies strongly with the poverty, regional synergy, gender and capacity building criteria
required by best practice. It also complies with our current preference to avoid 'greenfield' situations.
While Sierra Leone‟s civil war has reduced its credit union movement to a remnant of its previous scale
and influence, the ILCUF/CCA objective nevertheless focuses on rehabilitation and reconstruction of the
credit unions in urban areas.

Irish Aid turned down an ILCUF application for funding in summer 2009, primarily for reasons relating to
their budget cuts. A fresh application will be made in 2010 / 2011, based on a bottom-up approach, closer
involvement with the Registrar of Co-operatives and a more detailed project pre-agreement with CCA.

4.9       More Strategic Use of Small Projects Grants

Beginning in 2010, the ILCUF will re-focus the small projects grants scheme on projects with the
potential to generate greater strategic value to our core development objectives. The new policy will
ensure that;

         the normal small project ceiling will be €10,000;
         priority will be given to overseas projects in the credit union, social credit or microfinance sectors;
         small project grants will be used to leverage increased profile for the ILCUF and/or for our actual
          or potential partners in locations where this would help support wider strategic objectives.

This will enable us to initiate larger programmes, secure external funding from Irish Aid or elsewhere and
pursue new learning/innovation or monitoring/evaluation objectives. An additional objective is to involve
more credit unions at home and abroad with the work of the ILCUF through these smaller grants.

The ILCUF will re-draft the small projects grants application form, and applicant guidelines in order to
implement robust standards on both applications and reporting/accounting.

4.10   Training

Training is a core medium through which the ILCUF transfers know-how to its partners overseas. It is the
unique selling point of the ILCUF and a major reason why it should continue to exist. In this plan, we
will further improve the quality and quantity of training.               We will review the actual training
methodologies in use regarding their relative effectiveness, their relevance to conditions overseas, and
their compliance with best practice.

From an overall perspective in-country training will be emphasised, further developed, and expanded in
reach. This will be done in a regional context, thus aiming to spread the benefits beyond one country. In
the strategy period the ILCUF will prioritise participation in study tours for senior credit union and apex
body managers, trainers, and other relevant personnel.

The new credit union Training Centre in Ghana will, with CCA agreement, become a core focus for
ILCUF in that country and a major capacity-building contribution for both Ghana and the West Africa
region. This will include combinations of;

      participation by key Ghanaian officials in future visits to Ireland;
      technical assistance in curriculum development and in training needs analysis;
      capital help (equipment, training materials, etc.);
      initial programme assistance (recurrent costs, salaries, etc.);
      Irish specialist trainers to give courses;
      a major role for the centre in the distance learning developments.

While the joint CCA/ILCUF programme in Ghana has already been agreed, the development of the
training centre will be a particular priority for the ILCUF, over the three years to 2012.

There is an internal need in the ILCUF to improve the quality of training provided to ILCUF staff,
technical assistance personnel, Foundation Advocates and Directors.           Annual training plans will be
developed for these parties, following a training needs analysis. Logically some of this training could be
provided by ILCU internally.

It should also be noted that the agreed strategy on training in this plan will be a basis for the production of
three technical assistance reports due later in 2010 covering:
      the training needs of ILCUF‟s project personnel;
      current best practice in international development to deliver this training;
      evaluation and further enhancement of our training.

4.11   Microfinance and Co-operatives

A number of ILCUF‟s partners brand their individual lending units as co-operatives rather than credit
unions, particularly in Africa. Some use matched savings, in which grants from institutional donors are
on-lent to borrowers, increasing the availability of finance for lending beyond the value of savings or
deposits. Collaboration with microfinance agencies is arguably feasible across that part of a credit unions
loan book which relates to productive or income-generating loans.           Some microfinance agencies in
ILCUF‟s partner-countries want to take on more of the characteristics of a credit union and some have
already effectively developed into credit unions. Institutional and multilateral funders who see livelihoods
as a sector to favour more readily than “pure” credit union activity, will grant-aid mixed credit
programmes including community lending or “social credit” where microfinance is part of the mix. While
these terminological differences may present problems, once the core credit union ethic is maintained
ILCUF will, in principle, be willing to participate in future programmes involving co-operatives,
microfinance or social credit components.

4.12   Gender

The world‟s poorest countries continue to inhibit their own growth by under utilising women‟s economic
potential, due to practices or cultures which undermine women‟s status, lack of adequate education for
girls, and the limiting of women and girls to unskilled work. Conversely, the Africa Centre in Dublin
estimates that nearly half of the decrease in malnutrition achieved between 1975 and 1990 on the
continent is due to additional female education. It is also estimated that if African women farmers
received the same level of farm inputs, experience and education as their male counterparts, yields would
increase by 22%.

Worldwide, women benefit substantially from the credit union movement. In much of the work of
ILCUF‟s overseas partners, women actually benefit predominantly and in some instances the entire credit
union membership is female.

As a strategic objective, the ILCUF will seek to multiply the effectiveness of its overseas spend by
applying a gender criterion to all its work, coming alongside virtually all development co-operation bodies
worldwide and complying explicitly with best international practice and the aid effectiveness agenda.

4.13   Irish Aid Hunger Strategy

Irish Aid‟s Hunger Task Force, which reported to the Minister of State in early 2009, requested each
participant in Irish development co-operation to consider food issues. It specifically highlighted the lack
of access to credit for women farmers in Africa and recommended that 20% of Irish Aid‟s spend will be
food-relevant. Already, a generous €4 million has been ring-fenced.

The ILCUF will, as a strategic objective, contribute to the hunger relief targets by favouring increased
access to credit for rural women in developing countries. The most relevant countries in terms of this
policy are likely to be Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Ghana. The re-submitted application to Irish Aid in
respect of Sierra Leone will demonstrate greater emphasis on rural women‟s credit.


This Section initially outlines some best practice in the current international development environment and
how the ILCUF plans to comply with it.

5.1    Overall NGO Development Aid

The most influential current statements on best international aid practice, the Paris Declaration of 2005, is
an international agreement made by over 100 Ministers, Agency Heads and relevant others. Its key
recommendations in aid effectiveness have been catalogued in the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action, and are
now being adopted by both donor and recipient Governments and aid agencies, including Irish Aid and the
voluntary aid sector in Ireland. Some of these key concepts will materially affect the ILCUF‟s future
prospects for Irish Aid funding and they include:
          Ownership: Developing countries to set their own strategies for poverty reduction rather than
           have them imposed by aid donors;
          Alignment: Donors/development agencies to align their policies/actions to policy in the
           recipient countries, defined by both Governmental and civil society;
          Harmonisation: Donors/development agencies to harmonise and co-ordinate with each other,
           simplify procedures, share information, avoid duplication and avoid imposing multiple or
           conflicting cultures on recipients;
          Results: Focus to shift from inputs/activities to measurable outcomes, impact, results and
           practical effectiveness on the ground;
          Predictability: Donors/development agencies to provide 3-5 year forward information on their
           planned aid to their partners;
          Poverty Focus: An explicit Poverty Focus, rather than implicit reliance on trickle-down;
          Efficiency: The need, in the recession, to do more with less;
          Capacity Building: Making service provision the exception, and capacity building the rule.
          Limiting the number of countries each donor or agency works in;
          Concentrating on fewer, stronger partnerships;
          Exploring options for co-operation with agencies operating in the same sector/country /region;
          Sharing tools for measurement of tangible impact;
          Agencies to commence/deepen dialogue on harmonisation;
          Agencies to adopt more outcome-driven management and greater use of indicators that have
           been aligned with those of their partners;
          Agencies to systematically promote gender equality and the empowerment of women;
          Need to ensure that aid initiatives actually bring about positive and lasting change in the lives
           of the world‟s poorest people.

5.2    The ILCUF

The ILCUF‟s overseas work at the end of 2009 complies well with many of these criteria. This includes
the relationship with its partners, which is deeper than applies to many analogous Irish agencies. It also
includes its willingness to collaborate with other players in its sector, for example CCA and its clear focus
on capacity-building. Over the strategy period it will develop explicit policy on poverty focus, gender,
outcome-based project design and reporting.


A theme arising from the research for this Strategy is the need for improved communications between the
ILCUF and the credit unions in Ireland.

Independent research shows that the written or graphic element in this communication is of high quality,
focussing on the poverty/ development collaboration between the ILCUF and it partners. Posters and
other graphic promotional material with a thematic message (e.g. the family benefits of credit, etc.) have
been colourful, attractive and uncluttered.

In the strategy period, this communication flow will be rejuvenated, with more emphasis on the spoken
word; face-to-face promotional presentations; a focus on concrete achievement in combating poverty
overseas; more case study information at the level of the family or individual credit union member
overseas; an appeal possibly going wider than the primary target of the credit unions; an overall
communications strategy; and greater use of information technology.

The ILCUF‟s communications over the coming years will operate at a series of levels, including between
ILCUF and:
      ILCU Board;
      overseas partners;
      projects‟ beneficiaries;
      credit unions in Ireland;
      non-credit union funders;
      general public in Ireland.

We consider that our communications with all entities has scope for improvement. In particular the nature
of our contact with the credit unions should develop a firmer sense of ownership of and pride in ILCUF
and its achievements. A positive ownership-based perception of a very active and successful ILCUF
needs to be firmly embedded in the credit union movement.

It is more labour-intensive for ILCUF to request and use human interest stories from the partners overseas
than simply to describe joint institutional activity with them. This quality of information will be required
together with concrete ground-level material on benefits actually generated, poverty eased, families
helped, children educated, homes built, livelihoods created or countries exited with significant legacy
outcomes. Such material should convey family or individual identification, impact, and some future
aspirational focus as well as that on achievement to date.

Such improvements should mitigate against falling contributions from the credit unions. In 2010 and
2011, at least, large increases in financial contributions from the credit unions (along the lines of the 20%
achieved between 2008 and 2009) may not recur. If no action is taken, in fact, contributions could fall
substantially, with little prospect of short-term recovery. The Foundation Advocates project will help to
limit the negative impact on contributions. This in turn will require a local communications strategy to be

The ILCU‟s Communications Department was reinforced in 2009. It is hoped that the ILCU Board and
senior management would respond favourably to a request from the ILCUF Board for help from that
Department in designing and to some extent in implementing a new communications strategy for the

ILCUF. This would be of great assistance both in general terms and more specifically at local level in the
appropriate Chapters in support of the Advocate project.

7.       RESOURCES

The key resources required by ILCUF will be:
        funds;
        office space/office overheads;
        continuing volunteer support for example Foundation Advocates and ILCUF Directors;
        operational help from departments of ILCU such as Training and Communications;
        staff.

The office space/overhead needs are currently being met by the ILCU and it is hoped that this will

The key resource question is staff. In 2009 the ILCUF had effectively 2.4 full-time staff. This is low for
an Irish NGO turning over in excess of €1 million per year. The additional activities committed to in this
Strategy (for example effective management of the Advocates) will generate further strain.

There is no likelihood that the ILCU will provide more salaries than it paid in 2009, and therefore the
following strategies will be adopted:
        a six-month non-permanent assignment will be created during 2010, for a senior and experienced
         individual, to assist primarily in Africa, but involving work both in Ireland and in the field;
        a second six-month part-time post will be created, to manage the Russian and Albanian projects,
         the work to be delivered before end 2011. One of the main benefits here will be to facilitate the re-
         allocation of some of the time of the International Development Assistant towards planning and
         managing the Advocate programme.


The ILCUF Board at the end of each of the three years will approve a budget for the following year.

The ILCUF Board has extensive knowledge of the credit union movement in Ireland and considerable
acquired experience/knowledge of the past and present overseas programmes. It will also however
consider the possibility of adding high-value development experience by inviting at least one Irish
individual (e.g. senior former Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs, NGO or UN personnel) to assist it
on a specific project basis as appropriate.

The ILCUF will seek to register a company or a charity in Northern Ireland, under its full ownership and
control. The objectives will include facilitating future funding approaches to donors such as the UK‟s
Department for International Development (DFID), the Commonwealth Secretariat, or the UK Trusts and
Foundations. Other future benefits will include improved communication with Northern Ireland credit
unions, and the ability to address the question of possible tax advantage on gifts to the ILCUF in Northern

The ILCUF Board will seek to participate in an annual video conference involving each of the overseas
partners. It will also explore with the ILCU Board methods of improving continuity by for example two-
year terms of office for directors in future years.


In the period up to 2009, ILCUF‟s resources were under strain to guarantee the appropriate level of
management in the overseas programme. At the same time that programme was constantly generating
learning which was not being documented in order to provide a basis for innovation. This, in 2009, was
an area of deficit.

As a strategic objective, the Board will authorise one significant innovation, learning or research exercise
per annum. Close collaboration with the overseas partners will be a feature, in both the design and
implementation of this activity and it will overlap into evaluation. In every case, the nature of the core

output or outcome will be pre-agreed and will usually be a report, submitted to and considered by the
ILCUF Board and used in the design and implementation of future work overseas.

10.       NETWORKS

ILCUF in 2009 was benefitting materially from some of the networks it had recently joined, for example
the Irish NGO umbrella Dochas. (Alan Moore is currently a Board member of this body).

It is recommended that ILCUF:
         join the Eastern and Central Europe micro-finance network based in Warsaw, and evaluate
          possible membership of its Western European counterpart based in Paris;
         continue up to 2015 to develop its collaboration with CCA;
         continue to be a supporter/participant in the African Congress, and any worthwhile regional
          collaboration, particularly in West Africa, of a credit union/microfinance nature;
         re-visit the potential of co-operation with WOCCU, possibly on a small tightly focussed project
          with an unambiguous policy direction.


                                                              2010   2011   2012

      Seek Irish Aid funding                                  √      √

      Initiate Advocate pilot project                         √

      Review Advocate pilot project                                  √

      Implement revised Advocate project                                    √

      Build and review capacity in training centre in Accra          √      √

      Establish a legal entity in Northern Ireland                   √

      Finalise Communications plan                            √

      Implement Communications plan                                  √      √

      Implement disengagement strategy                        √      √      √

      Conduct Impact Assessment for Gambia                           √      √

      Initiate one new country project per annum              √      √      √

      Review and redesign small project grants programme      √

      Implement redesigned small projects grants                     √      √

      Review quality, quantity and delivery of training       √

      Implement improved training strategy                           √      √

      Align with aid effectiveness agenda                     √      √      √

      Initiate one innovation/learning project per annum      √      √      √

      Join relevant European microfinance networks                   √      √

      Recruit two part-time personnel                         √

      Achieve total income target (€900,000)                                √

      Explore Board election process to improve continuity    √


All of the above strategic initiatives flow from the overarching mission of the ILCUF which is:

“to alleviate poverty in developing countries by supporting credit unions, their representative bodies
and other co-operative type organisations as a means for socio-economic development through the
provision of financial and technical assistance”.

To fulfill our mandate, the Board and staff of the ILCUF aim to implement this plan creatively, efficiently
and effectively over the course of the next three years with the help and support of the ILCU Board and all
the members of the ILCU.

APPENDIX I            Persons Interviewed
Mr. Mark Bailey             President, ILCU
Mr. Ciaran Bishop           Business Unit Manager, ILCU Monitoring Department
Mr. Kieron Brennan          Chief Executive Officer, ILCU
Ms. Margaret Byrne          ILCUF Secretary
Mr. Dave Conway             Conway Coaching and Training Services
Ms. Alison Cowley           Self Help Africa (Ethiopia)
Mr. Emmanuel Darko          General Manager CUA (Ghana)
Ms. Tatiana Demina          Credit Union Manager, Dubna (Russia)
Ms. Vjollca Demiray         Training Officer, Jehona (Albania)
Mr. Michael Dowd            Director, ILCUF
Mr. Kevin Farrell           Special Envoy for Hunger, Irish Aid
Mr. Pat Fay                 Chairman, ILCUF
Ms. Jo-Anne Ferguson        Senior Director, International Development, CCA
Mr. Michael Gannon          Irish Friends of Albania
Mr. Kevin Helferty          Director , ILCUF
Mr. Mark Ireland            Programme Coordinator, Self Help Africa
Mr. Baboucarr Jeng          Chief Executive, NACCUG
Ms. Mandy Johnston          Head of Communications Department, ILCU
Mr. Vadim Khodos            Project Head, St. Petersburg (Russia)
Ms. Lyudmila Kukushina      Project Head, Dubna (Russia)
Mr. Alan Moore              International Development Officer, ILCUF
Mr. Liam Morrissey          ILCUF Technical Assistant Ethiopia
Mr. Michael Mullen          Training Specialist, ILCU Training Department
Mr. John Mullen             Director, ILCUF
Ms. Svetlana Amosova        Project Head, Karelia (Russia)
Ms. Aine O‟Dowd             International Development Assistant, ILCUF
Ms. Iona Rodgers            ACCUP Programme Co-ordinator, University of Ulster, Jordanstown
Ms. Elvana Sharkaj          Chief Executive, Jehona (Albania)
Mr. Gerry Thompson          Director, ILCUF
Mr. Pascal Vogli            Chairman, Jehona (Albania)

APPENDIX II            Glossary of Terms

Alignment                     The process of ensuring that the activities of a “Northern” NGO
                              in a country of the “Global South” comply with the development
                              priorities/policies of the Government and civil society in the
                              southern country, rather than seeking to impose its own

Capacity building             Developing the capability of indigenous agencies to improve
                              their performance (as opposed to direct service provision).

Cross-cutting issues          Horizontal sub-themes which, while not prime objectives, should
                              be addressed in every project regardless of sector, for example
                              gender equity, environment, HIV/AIDS, and other.

Harmonisation                 The process whereby NGOs collaborate openly with each other
                              and local entities, rather than compete.

Indicators                    A pre-defined metric or measure, often quantitative, used to
                              evaluate effectiveness or progress.

Irish Aid                     The Irish Government‟s programme of assistance to developing
                              countries under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

ILCU                          The Irish League of Credit Unions is a trade and representative
                              association for more than 500 credit unions throughout Ireland –
                              both north and south.

ILCUF                         The Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation is a subsidiary
                              company of the ILCU, which was established at the ILCU AGM
                              in 1980 in order to provide aid, financial or otherwise, to
                              developing countries with a particular emphasis on credit union
                       and other co-operative projects.

Issues Paper           A brief written presentation of key questions to be addressed in
                       ILCUF strategy, formulated from discussions between key
                       stakeholders and used later as a basis for interviews/submissions.

Microfinance Bodies    Organisations which lend to individuals, communities and
                       development bodies, usually for economic activities.

Multilateral funding   Financial support from intergovernmental or multinational (as
                       against national) organisations such as the World Bank, overseas
                       development arms of the European Union, or the large number of
                       individual specialised agencies in the United Nations system.

NGO                    Non-Governmental Organisation - a voluntary agency committed
                       to overseas development.

Partners               Indigenous groups or agencies in overseas countries through
                       which ILCUF seeks to make its contribution to their agreed
                       development needs.

Pilot project          A limited-scale activity designed to generate learning for use on
                       a wider scale.

Sector                 A cluster of economic development themes and sub-themes in
                       which project and programme activity takes place, e.g. education,
                       health, water, food production, livelihoods.

    APPENDIX III Framework for Selection of New Countries

Framework for Selection of New Countries
Level     Components                             Means of Verification                   Key Issues
      1.   1. Does this country present           Information on credit union/co-        State of credit union development
National   realistically good opportunities        operative/social credit background     Is this a '„greenfield‟' situation for ILCUF or is there
And        to develop credit union/co-            Poverty Reduction Strategy              an existing sector whose capacity can be developed?
Regional   operative models as instruments         documentation
           of poverty alleviation?
      2.    2. Is this country one in which       Number of existing NGOs (which         Sustainability
            demonstrable results can be            may dilute attribution)                Impact
            attributed in due course to
      3.    3. Is there sufficient                Country background as supplied by      Economic outlook
            political/security stability to        e.g Dept of Foreign Affairs or DFID    Volatility
            allow long-term programming,          Legislation on co-operatives
            and is the legal and institutional
            framework adequate?
      4.    4. Is there potential for co-         Irish Aid                              Possible linkages
            funding support most critically       Institutional Funders                  Potential partners
            from Irish Aid?                       Other NGOs
      5.    5. Are there opportunities for        ILCUF                                  Can more training be provided at the same cost
            regional synergy given ILCUF                                                   through regional collaboration?
            past and present locations?
      6.    6. Practicalities, e.g. access,       Country background as supplied by      Cost
            language, culture.                     e.g Dept of Foreign Affairs or DFID    Accessibility
                                                                                          Availability of appropriate human resources

      7.    7. Microfinance:                      Reports on the Micro Finance sector    Existing players
      8.       Key Institutions                                                           Diffusion of resources
      9.    8. Government Regulatory role         Meeting with senior officers           Supportive environment
            and support for co-ops
Framework for Selection of New Countries
Level       Components                   Means of Verification                          Key Issues
Institution 1. Is there an appropriate    Research                                      Partner‟s mix of credit union/co-
            partner in terms of shared                                                    operatives/microfinance/social credit
            philosophy, vision?

            2. Are the prospective               Research                               Seek third-party reports/evaluations/opinions
            partner‟s attributes appropriate     Prospective partner‟s key documents    Talk with their government
            in terms of legal status; quality    Consultations with their               In different countries, different partnership models
            of governance; strategy; track        Board/management                        will be used, depending on the circumstances
            record (loans, membership
            deposits, savings etc),
            continuity, prospects with
            other donors; standing with
            host government?

Programme   1. In terms of greenfield            Research                               Does the ILCUF provide a “comparative
or          versus existing structures, can      Judgement call for ILCUF Board              advantage”?
Project     it be guaranteed that an ILCUF
            input will have high impact
            and high value for money?

            2. What is the optimum mix           Programme planning                     Impact indicators, programme duration and ILCUF
            for an initial ILCUF option –                                                 exit strategy to be agreed from the start through a
            training in country; training in                                              Memorandum of Understanding. Including also
            region; training in Ireland;                                                  specific objectives, results, activities, inputs and
            capacity building through TA                                                  monitoring and evaluation

APPENDIX IV        The Foundation Advocate Programme

The Foundation Advocate proposal is based on selecting a key individual volunteer within Chapter
Regions to promote the ILCUF to our credit unions, working in close and systematic contact with an
ILCUF staff member charged to support the volunteers and manage the project. An objective will be to
maximise the number of brief but well-balanced presentations/appeals on behalf of the ILCUF in the 2010
round of credit union AGMs. Selection of the individual volunteers will be critical. They will be well-
known and respected within their Chapters, and very well informed on the ILCUF‟s work.

The Programme will include:
      a full day‟s initial briefing workshop at the ILCU offices on current overseas developments, plus a
       half-day update every six months; these workshops will also be used to evaluate, plan and agree
       promotional activity at Chapter Region level;
      emphasising as first target those credit unions (approximately half) which do not contribute, but
       also working with and seeking to increase the value of contributions overall.
      the Advocate manager at ILCUF staff level keeping each Advocate briefed as to contribution
       levels from credit unions within their Chapter; agreeing an annual plan/income target with each;
       and helping each to secure the maximum number of invitations to speak at AGMs;
      exploiting possible opportunities for individuals (Irish and foreign) with first-hand experience of
       the programme overseas to report in person to credit unions, including speaking at their AGMs;
      stressing the concrete achievements overseas, with increased emphasis on human interest and
       grass-roots progress by the very poor;
      devising/implementing a local communications plan in each Chapter to support the local
       Advocate‟s work, including articles/photos in local radio and newspapers;
      evaluating developments at the end of 2010 and deciding whether or how and where to extend the
       programme in 2011/2012;
      treating Advocates as valued members of ILCUF‟s team; inviting them regularly to participate in
       meeting programme-related visitors from overseas, to review progress with the ILCUF manager at
       staff level, in addition to facilitating on-going contact and exchange between Chapter Advocates.


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