WOCCU's international partnerships program grew in 2009 with the addition of two new partnerships: Guatemala/California & Nevada and Caja Yanga (Mexico)/Servus Credit Union (Alberta, Canada).
In spite of the economic downturn the partnerships program remained stable and performed at levels consistent with the past two years. The introduction of distance learning and webinars as a cost containment measure helped partners maintain contact and continue working together. The partnerships program gained new WOCCU supporters as now all 26 partnerships at least one partner providing direct support to program.
Partnerships activities and other events sponsored by the partnerships program were picked up by the media. Articles and stories on international partners and departmental programs periodically run in league newsletters, CUNA's News Now, Credit Union Times, and foreign local media, including mentions in Credit Union Magazine. The department was the source of 30 releases in trade media and local media in 2009. Twenty-one of those releases pertained to the international partners and seven others pertained to the Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program.
The International Partnerships program has updated the look of its webpage in 2009. The new WOCCU website allows the department to post up-to-date information on recent international volunteers and also post webinars which have been part of the new distance learning initiative in a few partnerships.
In addition to the Hispanic Marketing Immersion Program, the International Partnerships department also implemented three other technical internship programs. The technical internship program allows credit union staff and executives from another credit union movement outside the US to visit credit unions, leagues or corporates in the US to study specific areas of interest for one to two weeks. In 2009, WOCCU hosted the following programs: Costa Rica to Florida with four participants, Ecuador to Colorado with seven participants and Kenya to Tennessee with one participant.
Finally, the partnerships department had a dynamic year with the volunteers program. A total of nine US credit union and league volunteers traveled to AGMs and training events in Belize, Costa Rica, Paraguay, El Salvador, Romania and Russia. Many of the volunteers spoke and presented on how the economy has affected credit unions in the US and tactics and skills to exploit the opportunities that it presents. Other volunteer assignments included a marketing strategy evaluation in Romania and training on the NEFE program, a program used in US credit unions and high schools to teach students about financial responsibility, in Belize.
A departmental goal for 2010 will be to reactivate and reengage those partners who were unable to hold partnership activities in 2009. WOCCU will work with those partners to conduct planning sessions to set annual goals and work plans for their partnerships. This ensures that the partnership remains focused and that the partnership remains active.
As of December 2009, WOCCU's international partnership portfolio included 26 active partnerships.