Ghanaian bank worker shares knowledge in the Cowichan Valley

Helping people with their financial goals is satisfying work for Esther Kafui Akumani, whether in Africa or in the Cowichan Valley.

Helping people with their financial goals is satisfying work for Esther Kafui Akumani, whether  in Africa or in the Cowichan Valley.

Akumani, also known as “Miss K” to her co-workers, is from Ghana and is working this week with the staff and management of Island Savings, a division of the First West Credit Union.

Her visit to the Cowichan Valley is part of the international Women’s Mentorship Program, sponsored by the Canadian Co-operative Association.

Akumani is the operations manager at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Co-operative Credit Union and is spending her time here learning at Island Savings in Duncan and other locations on the Island. Akumani said she appreciates the opportunity to have local banking expertise shared with her so she can bring the skills and experience back to her own credit union in Ghana.

“It’s worth a million dollars for me to be able to do this and gain so much more knowledge and experience,” she said with a smile.

“It’s also my first time to North America and I’m really enjoying how beautiful and clean it is here. I’d like to come back for a vacation sometime.”

The CCA’s Women’s Mentorship Program is an annual training program that provides women credit union managers of overseas financial co-operatives with a unique opportunities for professional development.

It’s also a mutual learning opportunity for Canadians and international  co-operators.

Lisa Verwolf, director of credit, process and compliance for First West, is overseeing Akumani’s training while on the Island, and has also opened her home for Akumani to stay.

She said Akumani is spending time with managers and team leaders in a number of different departments, including business development, marketing, insurance and investments.

Verwolf said by the time Akumani heads back to Ghana on Saturday, she will have had experience in a number of large and smaller credit unions in the valley and in Victoria to broaden her perspective and understanding.

“Miss K also brings her own set of skills that she’s sharing with us,” Verwolf said.

“She is very goal-oriented and that’s something we value. It’s exciting and refreshing to see her commitment to helping people achieve their personal financial goals. The mentorship program is a wonderful opportunity for all of us.”