In Remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej 1927 - 2016

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Supervisory Committee Training for Bago Region SCCs—Audit Competency for Improved Governance

Cooperatives around the world have a Supervisory Committee whose members are elected from among the General Membership. Its main tasks include, among others: to provide internal audit service, to inspect the securities, cash, and accounts of the credit union, to scrutinize the acts of all officers, committees, and employees of the credit union to determine compliance with policies and regulations. Currently, however, Cooperative Law in Myanmar does not provide for it to be mandatory for cooperatives to have Supervisory Committee. The checking and monitoring functions vested upon them by the General Membership is vital and necessary in a democratic organization entrusted with the hard-earned members’ money. To properly discharge these functions, 35 cooperative leaders, managers and thana officers from 10 Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Bago Region participated in the 2-day Audit Competency Training held last June 12 and 13, 2014 at Shwe War Tun Hotel, Bago Township, Bago Region, Myanmar. ACCU-CCS Assistant Project Manager U Thein Zaw Htun and Training and Development Officer Dindo A. Meroy facilitated the seminar-workshop which deals with the basics of Cooperative Structure, Products and Services, the Job Prerequisites, the Role and the Charter and the Personal Standards and Ethics of Supervisory Committee. To introduce to them the sufficiency and appropriateness of Internal Control Environment of Savings and Credit Cooperatives, ample time of the training was allotted for workshops on accounts and records—Receipt and payment Vouchers, Cash Books for Receipts and Payments, General Ledger and Subsidiary Ledger. The participants appreciated the value of the Supervisory Committee and will adopt it in their by-laws. They also gained confidence in checking the simple recording system. The last part of the training was on the 7 Customer Protection Principle so that the SCCs can integrate these into their operations: 1) Appropriate Product Design and Delivery, 2) Prevention of Overindebtedness, 3) Transparency, 4) Responsible Pricing, 5) Fair and Respectful Treatment of Clients, 6) Privacy of Data, and 7) Mechanism for Complaint Resolution

Board of Directors in Myanmar SCCs Acquire Leadership Skills

Cooperatives’ growth and success as an organization hinges on the ability of its leaders to share the vision to the members and the community, and their skill to convert this vision into realistic goals and objectives. To effectively discharge their duties, first they have to know the basics on Cooperative Law and By-laws, Organizational Policies on Membership, General Meeting, Board of Directors and Committees, and Business Planning. ACCU-UNCDF Micro-Lead Expansion Project organized Leadership Training for Board of Directors of the Savings and Credit Cooperatives in the two project areas in Myanmar under the Savings and Credit Promotion and Microfinance Innovation Project. A total of 101 Board of Directors and Managers from 19 SCCs in Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Division participated in seminar-workshops held in Shwe War Tun Hotel , Bago last August 11 and 12 and in Cooperative Training School, Ayeyarwady last August 15 and 16. Project Manager Ranjith Hettiarachchi facilitated the seminar workshop which started with a presentation on the gains and achievement of the participating SCCs in Key Areas of Membership, Shares, Savings and Loans. SCCs were classified as to fast, middle and slow performers. The lack of active leadership on the part of the Board of Directors was acknowledged by the participants during the SWOT Analysis as one of the weaknesses of SCCs performing poorly in the last three month. For the SCC to reach its full potential, the volunteer leaders and the hired Manager need to step up in their membership recruitment, diligent marketing efforts and accurate and updated record-keeping. The Board of Directors and Managers, in their Action Plan, agreed to, among others, intensify membership recruitment by conducting at least two village motivation meetings every week. In their Business Plan, the target Membership for all SCCs at the end of year 2014 is 15,200 members; Shares Kyats 99,833,000; Savings Kyats 192,196,000; Loans Kyats 161,623,000. These batch of participants brings to 503 persons the total number of cooperative leaders and thana officers trained under this Project.

Stepping up in Governance: Myanmar SCCs elect Audit Supervisory Committee

Misuse of money by the Board of Directors and high loan delinquency are two of the leading risks faced by savings and credit cooperatives in Myanmar, as cited by the participants of the two-day Audit Competency Training held last May 15 to 16, 2014 in Cooperative Training School, Pathein, Ayeyarwady Division, Myanmar. “The elected members of the Supervisory Committee will act as the eyes and ears of the members when it comes to the operation and governance of their cooperative,” ACCU CEO Ranjith Hettiarachchi, the facilitator of the seminarworkshop, emphasized to the participants composed of forty-six (46) SCC Managers, Supervisory Committee members and Cooperative Department officers representing ACCU, in partnership with Central Cooperative Society (CCS), is engaged in the promotion and building sustainable savings and credit cooperatives in Myanmar. The goal in three years is to organize 25 SCCs with 50,000 members. Currently, the by-laws of SCCs in Myanmar does not provide for a Supervisory Committee. Audit is being done by the Cooperative Department. Introducing the Supervisory Committee in the policy framework as well as in practice in the national cooperative movement in Myanmar is one of the innovation made by the Project to achieve its goal. Fourteen (14) participating cooperatives under the Project positively responded by proposing amendments to their By-laws incorporating among others the provision of a Supervisory Committee composed of three members. In this seminar-workshop, participants were able to appreciate the uniqueness of the cooperatives, learn about SCC products and services, the roles of the Audit/ Supervisory Committee, and the Customer Protection Principles. Individual exercises were also done on recording member transactions in the Receipt and Payment Voucher, Receipt and Payment Cash Book, General and subsidiary Ledger and Member Passbook.

Institutional Development of Myanmar SCCs: Embracing New Concepts in Cooperative Governance and Management

In what could be the first ever in the history of the cooperative movement in Myanmar, 33 cooperative leaders and government officers representing 12 savings and credit cooperative from 12 townships, attended the Seminar on Organizational Development and Governance of Savings and Credit Cooperative held at Cooperative Training School, Pathein, Myanmar last March 31 to April 1, 2014. U Lin Htut Moe, Deputy Director of Cooperative Department, Ayeyarwady Division, warmly welcomed the participants and expressed his unwavering support to the development of savings and credit cooperatives in his Division, which he believes will become the model by which other cooperatives in Myanmar will emulate. ACCU, in partnership with Central Cooperative Society, will implement in the next two years the Savings and Credit Promotion and Microfinance Innovation Project in Myanmar. One major component of the Project is developing the capacity of the Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives for the promotion and monitoring of members. U Myint Maung Htun, Chairman of the Union of Monetary Cooperative—the Myanmar national federation of cooperatives engaged in savings and credit in Myanmar— graced the opening program together with U Saw Andrew Pan, Chairman, Cooperative Federation in Ayeyarwady Division and U Tin Htun and U Ye Myint, BOD Members of the Monetary Union. Group activities during the two-day seminar facilitated by ACCU CEO Ranjith Hettiarachchi revealed major deficiencies in cooperative governance and management of the participating savings and credit cooperatives including the absence of professional management to take charge of the daily operations; very low membership; lack of management information system, planning and monitoring. “I believe this is the situation of all the cooperatives in Myanmar, not just of our own cooperative. This is the first time we learned that there is so much we need to change in the way we govern and manage our cooperatives,” said Daw Myo Myo Hlaing, Managing Director of Tet Lann Bazaar Cooperative in Dedaye Township. Salient agreements during the seminar includes increasing membership to at least 1,000 by December, 2014; amendment of their by-laws to include the Supervisory Committee and Manager in their organizational structure; submission of Business Plan and monthly report template by 07 April; setting-up an office to build institutional image, and; the hiring of Manager to focus on daily operations and implementation of plans.

Bago SCCs Attend Accounts and Records Seminar: Proper Recording Towards a Trustworthy and Sustainable Cooperative

“We have to record accurately and in a timely manner all financial transactions with members because, in the case of their savings, we have to return the money back to them, and in the case of loans, we have to collect from them.” Thus, ACCU CEO Ranjith Hettiarachchi, the seminar- workshop facilitator, summed up the rationale of the two-day Account and Records Seminar held last April 28 and 29, 2014 in Division Cooperative Federation Office, Bago Division, Myanmar. A total of thirty-five community leaders and thana officers participated in the seminar-workshop representing ten townships from Bago Division. U Soe Myint, Vice-Chairperson of Bago Cooperative Federation warmly welcomed all the participants and extended his appreciation and gratitude to ACCU and CCS for organizing this kind of seminar-workshop on proper recording which he said is key for transparent and trustworthy cooperatives. Apart from the progress review on what the community leaders have done after the Promoters Seminar, the Accounts and Review Seminar imparted knowledge to the participants on the following: Introduction to the nature of accounts transaction on Savings and Credit Cooperative, Basic Accounting Policy, Registration Process, Monthly Summary Report Format, Business Plan and Action Plan. To build participants’ skills on recording of transactions, practice set were distributed and individual exercises were done on identification whether a transaction is a Receipt or a Payment, proper issuance of Receipt Voucher and Payment Voucher, proper posting of the transaction to the individual member’s Passbook, Cash Receipts Book, Cash Disbursements Book and General Ledger. ACCU in partnership with CCS embarks on a Project on Building Sustainable Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Myanmar. The project aims to organize 25 SCCs in three with 50,000 members half of whom are women and in rural areas. The Accounts and Records Seminar allocates a portion of the total training time spread over the whole two -day duration sharing videos and experiences of successful SCCs in Asia. This was part of the motivational nature of the training programs to be conducted by the Project in the first few months. The participants, upon returning to their villages will start the savings mobilization program and implement proper recording since they got to bring with them an initial 150 passbooks, 3 booklets Receipt Voucher, Cash Receipts Book, Cash Disbursement Book and General Ledger.

Strengthening the Institution—Myanmar SCCs Hire Managers

The formal appointment of nine Managers for cooperatives in Ayeyarwady Division in Myanmar was one of the highlights of the two-day Managers’ Review Seminar held in Cooperative Training School, Pathein, Ayeyarwady, Myanmar last May 1 and 2, 2014. U Aung Bo, Assistant Director of Ayeyarwady Division Cooperative Department, graced the opening and closing ceremonies of the seminar workshop attended by a total of 28 participants consisting of Board of Directors and Managers representing 13 Savings and Credit Cooperatives within Ayeyarwady Division. ACCU and CCS collaborates with funding support from UNCDF to promote sustainable savings and credit cooperatives in Myanmar. The goal of the Project, in three years, is to organize 25 SCCs with 50,000 members 50% of whom are women in rural areas. Currently, the members of the Board of Directors choose from among themselves to act as Managing Director who will take charge of the day-to-day management of the cooperative. The hiring of a professional Manager is one of the key changes being introduced by this Project to the cooperative movement in Myanmar. The seminar-workshop, ably facilitated by ACCU CEO Ranjith Hettiarachchi, started with a progress review of what the participants have done in the last three months after the first two training programs—the Promoters’ Seminar in January and the Accounts and Records Seminar in March. The participants learned about the Organizational Policy consisting the following areas: Membership Policy, General Meeting, Roles, Functions and Powers of the Board of Directors, Supervisory Committee, Credit Committee and Manager. To further equip the Board of Director and the Managers, discussed also were Key to Marketing Strategies, Product and Services, Credit Management, Collection Policy and Delinquency Control. The Managers will now focus on the agreed goals for 2014—the recruitment of 1,000 members, generate savings of 40 million Kyats, grant loans of 30 million Kyats and income of 300,000.

Ayeyarwady SCCs learn Delinquency Control, Human Resource and Office Management

Cooperative leaders and thana officers from Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Ayeyarwady Division took up more advance training on cooperative management last June 4 and 5, 2014 in Cooperative Training School, Pathein, Ayeyarwady Division, Myanmar. A total of 10 Chairpersons, 12 Managers and 5 Thana Officers representing 12 Savings and Credit Cooperative attended the Seminar-Workshop on Advance Training for Board of Directors and Managers. ACCU CEO Elenita V. San Roque and Project Manager facilitated the training which include the subjects on Credit Management and Delinquency Control, Office Management, Human Resourcement Managment, Marketing, Cooperative Record-keeping, Business Planning and Cash Management. This workshop-seminar is part of the series of capacitybuilding activities under the Savings and Credit Cooperatives Promotion and Microfinance Innovation Project currently implemented by ACCU and Central Cooperative Society (CCS) with funding from UNCDF. The Project aims to organize 25 SCCs with 50,000 members half of whom are female and least half from rural areas. During the assessment at the beginning of the workshop, participating SCCs shared that they now maintain an office in their villages as part of their efforts to project professional image in the community, and also to provide a venue where their members can come and transact business. Office locations vary from village library or village council office, cooperative federation office or in many cases in the house of the Chairperson or the Manager. Once a certain volume of business is reached, the SCC will find a more suitable office space that they can rent and maintain. Proper documentation for loan such as Loan Application and Loan Agreement was also introduced in this training as the SCCs are entering their third month of savings mobilization and are now preparing for loan operations to provide needed capital for their members who qualify.

First SCC: Pan Witt Yee

120 pioneer members of Pan Witt Yee Savings and Credit Cooperative attended their inaugural General Meeting held last March 27, 2014 in Thabaung Cooperative Department Office, Thabaung Township, Ayeyarwady Division, Myanmar. Pan Witt Yee SCC is the first savings and credit cooperative organized by ACCU less than three months after setting up its Project Office in Myanmar under the Savings and Credit Promotion and Microfinance Innovation Project in partnership with Central Cooperative Society. The Project which is funded by United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) aims to organize 25 new savings and credit cooperatives with 50,000 members half of whom should be women living in rural areas, within the next three years. U Than Tun Win was elected as the President during the cooperative’s first general meeting composed of delegates coming from different villages within Thabaung Township. Each member committed to contribute share capital in the amount of 500 Kyats per week and savings in the amount of 500 Kyats per week. Daw Kyaw Mwe Paw, Director of Thabaung Cooperative Department, administered the oath-taking of the newlyelected members of the Board of Directors right after the election. The members of the Board of Directors are: U Than Tun Win, President; U Hla Than, Vice-President; U Htein Tin, Secretary; U Win Than and U Augn Thar, Auditors, and; U Soe Aung, U Myint Oo and U Sein Tin, Members. ACCU CEO Ranjith Hettiarachchi, who gave a brief inspirational talk at the beginning of the meeting, witnessed the momentous occasion. Both Pan Witt Yee SCC President U Than Tun Win and Treasurer U Maung Maung Soe attended the First Promoters’ Seminar on February 6 and 7, and the Accounts and Record Seminar on March 19 and 20 conducted by ACCU in Pathein Cooperative Training School. Community leaders in 14 other townships in Ayeyarwaddy Division and 10 townships in Bago Division are also in different stages of organizing their respective savings and credit cooperatives under this Project.