New program strengthens co-operative lending institutions
in Myanmar's Dry Zone
Ottawa,  January 30, 2017 - Co-operative lending institutions will be strengthened to provide essential financial services to unbanked farmers in rural Myanmar following an agreement between the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT).

Many people living in rural areas of Myanmar have insufficient access to affordable credit and deposit services. LIFT Fund Director Andrew Kirkwood says improving access to finance is critical to expanding rural households' economic opportunities. "Co-operatives have real potential to expand financial inclusion in Myanmar because of the flexibility they have to design savings and loan programs. But they need strengthening to meet the challenges and be sustainable."

The USD 3 million project will target two township-level co-operative federations in Myanmar's dry zone to increase access to financial services in the region and improve the sustainability of the co-operative lenders.

CCA Executive Director Michael Casey said the project would help co-operatives in Myingyan and Pakkoku to transition to a stronger, more sustainable, member-owned capital base to better serve members' needs.

"Co-operatives are a large and long-established provider of rural finance in Myanmar," Mr. Casey said.
"This project will help realize the very real potential co-operatives have to scale up their savings and lending capacity to bring needed financial services to rural areas and increase potential for higher family household incomes."   
Over three years, the project will deliver training programs in Myingyan and Pakkoku to grow the capacity of co-operatives, mobilize savings schemes and facilitate lending from banks to increase the co-operatives' access to capital and develop demand-led lending for agriculture-related on- and off-farm investments. Financial literacy training will also be delivered to communities.

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The Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) is a multi-donor fund established in Myanmar in 2010 that improves the lives and prospects of rural poor people in Myanmar, with generous contributions from Australia, Denmark, the European Union, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. From the private sector, the Mitsubishi Corporation is a donor. Funds are pooled for aid effectiveness. The Fund's mandate has been extended twice at the request of donors, and activities are expected to continue to the end of 2018, at least. LIFT is managed by UNOPS.
The Central Co-operative Society (CCS)
is the apex organization of co-operatives in Myanmar. Founded in 1905, today it comprises 22 unions, 424 federations and 39,898 primary societies. CCS is structured under the Union of Myanmar Co-operative Society Law of 1992. CCS was a pioneer in microfinance in Myanmar, launching a co-operative microfinance model in 2007. CCS coordinates co-operative development efforts in Myanmar, provides education and training for members of co-operatives, and represents Myanmar's co-operative sector internationally.   
The Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) is a not-for-profit co-operative which establishes and strengthens co-operatives, credit unions and community-based organizations to reduce poverty, build sustainable livelihoods and improve civil society in less developed countries. CCA proudly delivers programs for the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) and other organizations which help communities fight poverty and create more secure lives through community-owned

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF)
is a registered charitable organization. It raises money, mostly from Canadian co-operatives and co-op members to help alleviate poverty by building and strengthening financial and non-financial co-ops in developing countries. Working with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) and other partners, it helps poor communities fight poverty and create more secure lives through community-owned co-ops. 

For more information, please contact:
Lyndal Pearce | Communications Specialist | Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT)
UNOPS | 12(O), Pyi Thu Lane, 7 Mile, Mayangone, Yangon, Myanmar
t: +95 1657280~7, +95 1657703-4 ext: 431 | m: +95 9 4500 33610
Michael Casey | Executive Director | the Canadian Co-operative Association and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada  | (613) 238-6711 ext. 244



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