#CUinAfrica - Kpandai Microfinance Women Empowerment, A story

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today we has a huge honour and pleasure of meeting a few women who have benefited from Microfinance loan program offered by their local Kpandai Credit Union. This is one way local credit unions here in Ghana empower women. Microfinance institutions are identified to be one of the key players in the financial industry that have positively affected peoples lives, their families, communities and the economy at large through the services they offer and the functions they perform in the economy.
  Miriam and I had a pleasure of talking to few women who were able to apply and get a loan in order to improve their lives. 

These are their stories:
This is Madam Lydia Faram  (R) and her apprentice Julliette (L).  Lydia was an apprentice seamstress and she wanted to expand her business and own her own store. Two years ago, thanks to having access to a Microfinance loan with her local credit union, allowed her to realize her dream of growing her business. It grew big enough to a point that she has hired an apprentice. 
An opportunity to have this loan has helped her get a individual account at her credit union, and she is now better equipped to support her three year old son and herself. Lydia said that this loan has given her freedom and that she love that she is able to contribute back to the local economy. She was also able to help her family, like putting her sister though school.

This is Madam Rabika Alidu. She ran a small stand selling phone minute cards. She lost her husband, and needed a loan to expand her business in order to be able to support her family. The group of women she belonged to approached the credit union and she got a Microfinance loan to expand her business. She kept her small stand with phone cards but expanded her business into a little grocery store. She is now able to support her family and pay for her kids education. The microfinance program helped her stand on her feet and improve her, and her families lives.

This is Madam Memuna Alhassan. She owns and runs a hair salon. Herself along with seven women used the Microfinance loan to expand their business. They now sell women clothing and run a hair salon. This group of women has utilized this amazing micro credit product offered by their local credit union to grow their business, by purchasing necessary supplies, they now employ four women. To Mumuna this is how she give back; the Kpandai credit union helped her, and she spread the message by employing other women who will eventually be able to get their loans and employe more women and so on. 

All of the women we met had a powerful story to share; one thing we were certain about by end of the day is it that their local credit union Microfinance loans have had an impact on their lives. Sahada Alhassan said " Credit Union are helping us (Microfinance) members grow our business and our families, so Thank you" 
Pictured above: Madam Sulamana Rahina and a customer

Yaw Gifcy - Selling kenkey
Madam Nyinfar Beatrice - Selling cloths at the local market
Juliana - sells metal dishes at the market. She was able to expand her business enough to afford to send her daughter to school to become a teacher. 
Emilia Yane (top) and Kande Abukarim (bottom) each own a spice shop they were able to start and expand with help of their credit unions. 

Empowering women is smart economics - not sure where I read that but I wholeheartedly agree. Empowering women to have access to basic financial needs helps the lives of women and girls around the world improve dramatically. So please share their stories, talk about it, because every little bit helps make a difference and move that scale of equality.

Nermisa and Miriam

Top 5 Shows For Fall

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It's that time again, pumpkin spice is in the air and you know what that means Summer shows are winding down aka Big Brother and new Fall shows are premiering. Here are my top 5 picks
S.W.A.T- Honestly I have no idea what this show is about, I picked solely because Shemare Moore is in it and he is smoking! I have linked to the IMDB page if you want to know what the show is about. And also enjoy!
SEAL Team- This show from the title I assume is military based, again I chose this because of the main character David Boreanaz. You might start to see a theme here. I do have to say I love his acting and loved him in Bones so I can't wait to see him in this. Again you're welcome!
Will & Grace-  It's again the year of the reboot, Will, Grace, Karen and Jack are back years later. I loved this show when it was on air the first time so I'm curious to see the reboot. If nothing else you can say you saw it.
Young Sheldon- Along with reboots this year there are also spin offs. Sheldon is obviously the best character on Big Bang Theory so I'm interested to see this show.
Wisdom Of The Crowd- This show looks interesting you use social media to solve crimes. I like that this idea is new and something different than the usual police dramas or military based shows.
What will you be watching this Fall? What show should have made the list?

#CUinAfrica - Accra Adventures

Monday, September 18, 2017

Road to Accra seemed long - 22 hours long to be exact, but that didn't matter. We were prepared, by doing lots of research and reading, drawing on previous coaches experiences, and most of us brought way to many things with us, but the team of eight coaches have landed in Accra and are ready for this two week adventure. 
We spent last two days getting to explore Accra - from the cultural market, to malls, beach and a hidden gem that served delicious local cuisine. Accra is beautiful, bursting with energy and continuously developing. The streets are busy and I was thankful for our CUA colleagues and drives (Patrick, Robert, George) and guide Gifcy because navigating the streets on our own would have been a challenge. (There is some kind of code that everyone honks and that lets them know that they are either merging, letting them merge or not to cross... it was unique and I couldn't have figured it out. Oh and the motor bikes, they obey by their own rules.)
The people here in Accra are so friendly and hospitable. Our trusted guides took us to a small local restaurant. It was lined up out of the door and eight of us were the only tourists to be found anywhere in the vicinity. We let the Gifcy order for us. We got a chance to try Fufu and Banku and it was authentically delicious. The owner of the restaurant stoped by the table - greeted us and fast informed us that we were eating it wrong. After a short lesson, he brought in more food for us to sample and practice eating like the locals. 
The cultural centre and the market are very much like a bazar, filled with little mom and pops type of shops. You can find ton of wood carving type things, paintings, clothes and jewelry. The people are friendly but do brush up on your bargaining skills because you will need them. 
I think that Africa as a continent is very young sort of speak; the population is young and a lot of parts of the continent are still developing and growing. In anything, like your business career, building a network is very important. Being successful means that sometimes you have to build and relay on your network connections to get a little better/bigger/stronger/more knowledgable (if you get my drift?). I strongly believe that this CCA/CDF program does exactly that - it's, in small part, helping the global cooperative network become a little better world. 
Today we are flying to Tamale in Northern Ghana, where our volunteer program and jobs begin. I am excited and a little anxious. Excited because my experience in Ghana so fast has been amazing, anxious because I am two weeks is not a very long time to get to know, learn from and help other credit unions. 

If you wanna follow our adventures, you can check out #CCACoaches across all social media or #CUinAffrica to follow my story along. Thank you for reading 


OOTD - Red and Black

Edmonton weather has been all over the place. Some days it's so hot, and then it rains and its cold the next day.  Being 5'9'' and not a size zero wearing a body suit is so awkward and most don't fit me right, this Arden body suit did. I took a chance and since I wear jeans for comfort (I know, weird right?) so I paired my favorite "winter" pair of jeans with a body suit and a leather jacket for lunch with few friends.

jeans: Floc Boutique
purse: Chanel
body suit: Arden
shoes: Gravity Pope

OOTD - Wrap Shirt

Monday, September 11, 2017

Can you guys believe its September? How is summer ending so soon? Where did all this time go? I am slowly starting to transition some of my favorite summer pieces into fall. This faux wrap top is a perfect piece for that. I paired it with a suede skirt which is one of my fall staples and a cargo jacket.  

jacket: Mango
skirt: Zara
shoes: Aldo
purse: Rebecca Minkoff
Shirt: Le Chateau

I'm Going to Africa! #CUinAfrica

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Guys, I am going to Africa! As many of you know I work in the world of finance, and if you follow me on social media you know that I work for a cooperative called Servus Credit Union.  I have worked in the CU system for over nine year, and this year Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) has given me an opportunity to go to Africa to volunteer in credit unions and their local communities.

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. Cooperative system and values were a huge part of my upbringing in Bosnia, and moving to Canada I looked for an opportunity to work in an environment where my values and belief would align. Over last nice years, I’ve built my career in a variety of roles and branches at Servus Credit Union. Getting the opportunity to be part of the CCA’s Ghana Coaching Program aligns with my values, gives me a chance to give back and hopefully make a little difference along the way.
 I have traveled a lot, but this feels different and now sitting down writing this I cannot described how excited I am that I get to be a part of something as great as this.  
We received our assignments and list of places we will be visiting, so I spend hours researching and getting to know as much as I can about places we will be visiting. CCA has years of experience doing this so they send us a lot of information. I am a fairly organized person (sometimes!) so I started packing like a ten days ago, just so I don't forget anything.
This has been a learning experience for me - for example turns out, traditionally women in Ghana do not wear pants - so excuse me while I go shopping and start re-packing.
Three big things I learned about preparing to go volunteer/work in Africa:
Go to a travel health clinic: get your shots, prescriptions, the good bug spray and advice from professionals on does and don'ts.
Mosquito/Bug repellants are not all created equal. You need a higher deet percentage or a number than you do here at home.
Malaria drugs are also not all created equal. Invest in the good/more expensive ones with less side effects. I have heard horror stories about people taking certain types of malaria prevention drugs causing  hash side effects including hallucinations.
Over the next 3 weeks I will be sharing my adventures in Ghana both on here and across my social media. You can also flow along by checking #CUinAfrica on Twitter and Instagram.
Have you been to Africa? Do you have any tips or suggestions? I would love to hear from you.


Hvar: City Guide

Thursday, September 7, 2017

If island life is for you than you have to visit Hvar. Hvar offers a perfect balance of small scale Ibiza party like atmosphere and quiet and enchanting beaches, and is one of those rare destinations that remains filled with lots of history and interesting place to visit, like its ancient fortress and ton of Venetian influenced architecture. 
I left a little piece of my heart in Hvar; I would be lying if I said that the people I met and an absolute amazing time while in Hvar, aren't a cause of that,  but either way, a little piece of my heart will always be in Hvar.
So getting there - you are either taking a ferry via Jadrolinia, renting a speed boat or a water taxi from Split or Dubrovnik. Split is significantly closer and the ferry ride is short and fairly inexpensive. 

Staying in Hvar - There are TON of hotels, air B&B's, apartments an rooms for rent.  Everything is relatively close, however close to the square and the beaches you will be paying  more. 

Eating in Hvar - There are dozens of amazing places to eat; from lovely waterfront caf├ęs and restaurant to little intimate restaurants in the cobble stone streets. We tried out lots of places, here are few places I would recommend based on service, food and overall experience: 
Breakfast: BB Club (their eggs beni was to DIE for) and Caffe Bar El Clasico
Lunch: Hula Hula Beach Club and Plava Alga
Dinner: Fig Cafe and Pizzeria Mizarola 

Hvar is know as a party island - and it totally delivers on that - from fun day clubs to ton of small pubs and bars that line the streets. We spent a lot of time occupying the same quadrant of space at Hula Hula Hvar - its a day club with full service, music and crystal clear beaches. Kiva Bar, Carpe Diem, both Bar and Beach club have a fantasist atmosphere. They are busy, and hot, but the drinks and music are good making it worth it.

If you followed along on snapshot and instagram stories you would have witnessed some amazing (or not so amazing) dance moves at all hours. Most bars on the Island close at 2AM but not to worry because they open an actual island - yes and island where you take a free boar ride over to - so you can party till wee hours of the morning.
Have you ever been to Hvar?