WOCCU’s international partnerships program grew in 2007 with the addition of six new partnerships: Dominican Republic/Wisconsin, Caja Morelia-Valladolid (Mexico)/North Carolina, Peru/Vermont, Solomon Islands/Idaho, and Russia/Louisiana. First steps were also taken by four other pairs: Antigua/Arizona, Belize/Southwest Corporate, Brazil/Florida, and St. Lucia/Michigan. Additionally, the Virginia League is considering a partnership with Estonia. By the end of 2008, the program could potentially have 30 formal partnerships (up from 12 in 2005).
Sophisticated operational and technical exchanges are virtually the norm in all partnerships. With increased interest in international transactions and technology-driven operations in credit unions, many U.S. league partners are now playing a key role working with WOCCU to provide operational expertise, share their experiences and offer advice on information technology requirements to developing partners. Of the 25 official partnerships and the 4 in progress, 65% conducted significant exchanges in 2008.
The program has enjoyed increased media attention in the United States. Several articles, press releases and other communications were published in both the trade and mainstream media. Nearly 25% of all press releases generated by WOCCU in 2007 were directly related to partnership activities. WOCCU has utilized these relationships to showcase how credit unions can lead the globalization of today's economies in a way that perfects the services offered to members and improves their ability to increase income, build wealth and improve financial literacy.
The department has also utilized its blog to share the most up-to-date information. Pictures, visit highlights and links to press releases are included in the blog. The blog has been transferred to its new home on the recently re-launched WOCCU website (www.woccu.org).
One of the year’s highlights was the implementation of the International Partnership department’s new annual program, the Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program. The program is designed to transfer knowledge to U.S. credit unions facing a more diverse pool of potential members. Program activities allow participants to live, learn and grow in Mexico while learning marketing techniques for reaching out to the Hispanic demographic. The participants take intensive Spanish language courses, live with a Hispanic host family, enjoy cultural activities and partake in practical internships with a local credit union. This year’s program included 18 participants from several U.S. leagues and credit unions.
Another important event was the 3rd International Partnerships Briefing and Hike the Hill on October 19 in Washington, D.C. Nineteen credit union leaders from United States credit union leagues and the World Council shared the progress of their individual partnerships and used the meeting as a forum for best practices. During the briefing, participants discussed how to best convey partnership benefits to their constituents, how to make partnerships more inclusive, what works in the program and what can be improved. A special presentation on the Costa Rica/Alabama partnership was given by Oscar Hidalgo Chaves, CEO of COOPESERVIDORES in Costa Rica.
Partnership efficiency is a continuing goal for the department. Partners work with WOCCU to conduct planning sessions to set annual goals and work plans for their partnerships. Periodically, each partnership conducts a feedback session to measure work plan effectiveness so that priorities and activities are continually evaluated and realigned. This ensures that the partnership remains focused and that both partners feel that the relationship adds value to their mission.
As of December 2007, WOCCU’s international partnership portfolio included 25 active partnerships and 4 progressing toward formal agreements.
Please contact Josh Fetting at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-395-2060 to request the full annual report with blog and press release archives and one will be sent to you via mail or other electronic source.