First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

June 25, 2012 11:00 ET

Local First West Credit Union Employee Advances Women's Leadership and Cooperative Banking at International Forum in Africa

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 25, 2012) - Kam Raman's passion for community giving, extensive knowledge and experience, and hope that she could make a difference were perfect elements to help drive the success of the first-ever Africa Women's Forum held recently in Botswana.

Raman, who leads Sales and Member Experience at First West Credit Union, was accompanied by four of her North American industry peers on a once in a lifetime journey around the world to meet with 200 women credit union leaders from nine African nations, including Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda.

The two-day event to promote the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives across Africa was jointly hosted by the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings & Credit Associations, the World Council of Credit Unions and the Canadian Cooperative Association, and took place during the United Nation's International Year of the Co-operatives. While in Botswana, Raman helped establish an international network of support to progress the professional and personal development of women in the sector in the hopes of also strengthening the credit union industry worldwide.

"Around the world credit unions are empowering people to better their lives through access to quality and affordable financial services," said Raman. "While in Botswana, I saw first hand the tremendous impact this country's credit unions had on so many individuals, especially women who were often raising families as single mothers due to the ravages of the AIDS epidemic."

Attendees at the forum ranged from branch managers to CEOs, and topics covered included community engagement, marketing, human resources, and a session on product innovation. Drawing on her many years in the personal banking industry, Raman led a session centred around customer service. "Customers' circumstances will vary greatly from community to community and country to country," shares Raman. "But at the heart of it, all people want to be treated fairly, respectfully and with integrity. It's here that credit unions and cooperative banking efforts really stand out-regardless of your financial circumstances, we believe people have intrinsic value and worth."

On the topic of women in leadership within the banking sector, Raman speaks very passionately. "Equal opportunities and an equal voice for women are paramount regardless of whether you work in a Botswana, Ugandan or Canadian credit union. The simple truth is an organization's diverse leadership team better reflects and meets the needs of its members and customers."

For Raman, she's proud of the work accomplished during her Botswana visit and that her own credit union's international work has been and continues to be an ongoing area of focus. For its part this year, First West Credit Union recently hosted Roselyn Jituti, general manager of Kencom Savings and Credit Co-operative in Kenya for 10 days, and have announced a commitment of $150,000 to the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada's Build a Better World campaign to help alleviate global poverty and support the development of co-operatives and credit unions in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

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 $6.6 billion in assets under administration, more than 169,000 members and close to 1,400 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit

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