First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

May 22, 2014 12:00 ET

First West Credit Union Welcomes Martha Maziva, Credit Union CEO From Zimbabwe, for 10-Day Leadership and Learning Experience

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 22, 2014) - New connections, 16,000 kilometres in the making, are being formed today as First West Credit Union welcomes Martha Maziva, CEO of Central Mashonaland Credit Union in Zimbabwe, for a 10-day leadership and learning experience as part of the Women's Mentorship Program developed by the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) on behalf of the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF).

Martha is one of 16 women credit union leaders who arrived in Ottawa on May 12 to participate in the Women's Mentorship Program, a unique professional development experience for international female credit union leaders. Martha's credit union, Central Mashonaland in Zimbabwe, has 6,000 members (25 per cent are women) and assets of US$441,524, with a focus on microfinance.

The Women's Mentorship Program provides training on loan and risk management, human resource management, corporate governance, marketing, savings mobilization and financial reporting, while also pairing up mentees with credit unions across Canada. In addition to meeting with First West leaders, including CEO Launi Skinner and Envision Financial president Shelley Besse, Martha will be observing firsthand day-to-day branch operations at Envision Financial's SouthPoint branch in South Surrey and Willoughby branch in Langley. This is the tenth time First West has hosted an international female credit union leader. In the past, First West has hosted female leaders from countries like Ghana, Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa.

"First West is an enthusiastic supporter of CCA's international development programs," says Laurie Tennian, Women's Mentorship Program Manager. "In addition to providing funding, First West employees have been involved in CCA's coaching program, and in 2013, Launi Skinner was one of six CEOs on the CDF Journey Out of Poverty study tour to Cambodia. For nine days, these CEOs learned first-hand how cooperatives can alleviate poverty in developing countries. It's through these shared experiences and mentorships that Canadian credit union leaders and our mentees can exchange excellent insights and experiences for the benefit of all."

During her visit to First West, Martha will be hosted by Leslie Castellani, vice-president of communications and public relations, and living during her 10-day stay in South Surrey/White Rock. "It's such a great opportunity to be able to host a female credit union leader, and spend time understanding the similarities and differences in cultures, leadership approaches and experiences. I look forward to learning about Martha's life in Zimbabwe and introducing her to our community, possibly even something that is characteristically Canadian-an early morning hockey game with my son."

What is the Women's Mentorship Program?

The Women's Mentorship Program, now in its 12th year, began in 2002 when a gap was identified in professional development opportunities for women in Africa and Asia. A plan was made to connect credit union women leaders in developing countries with Canadian credit union knowledge and expertise.

At the completion of the 2014 program, 192 women from 19 countries will have participated in the Women's Mentorship Program, which is continually adapted to the learning needs voiced by participants. This year, there are 16 participants from eight countries. As well as spending time with their host credit union, participants gather in Ottawa with staff from CCA, before and after their placement, to learn more about their particular learning needs and plan how to implement lessons learned upon returning to their home credit union.

How is it supported?

Funding for the Women's Mentorship Program is provided by the Government of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada from funds raised within the Canadian co-operative sector.

This year CDF has a new campaign in collaboration with Aeroplan. The Beyond Miles campaign will use donated Aeroplan travel miles to help cover the cost of participants' flights to Canada and to credit unions across Canada for their placements.

To donate travel miles, visit

To make a donation to CDF visit

For information on the Women's Mentorship Program visit or contact Laurie Tennian at or 613-238-6711 ext. 209.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 39 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit

Follow First West Credit Union on Twitter: @firstwestcu.

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