WOCCU’s international partnerships program continued growing in 2005 with the addition
of several partnerships: Bahamas/Massachusetts, Jamaica/Texas, Mexico ALIANZA/New
Mexico, Puerto Rico/New York. First steps were also taken by Costa Rica/Alabama, Hong
Kong/British Columbia, and Panama/Iowa.
The trend toward sophisticated technical exchanges is clear in several 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 when working with WOCCU
to provide operational expertise and to offer experienced advice in information technology
requirements to developing partners.
The program has received increasing media attention in the United States. Several articles,
press releases and other communications have been published in both the trade and
mainstream press. Of all press releases generated by WOCCU in 2005, 25% are directly
related to partnership activities. WOCCU has used these relationships to showcase how
credit unions can lead the globalization of today's economies in a way that perfects the
services to members and improves their ability to increase their income, build wealth and
improve financial literacy.
One of the highlights of the year was the announcement made by the National Credit Union
Foundation (NCUF) bestowing the United States credit union movement’s highest honor on
a partnership benefiting credit unions in the U.S. and Mexico. The World Council of Credit
Unions, the California-Nevada Credit Union League and the Texas Credit Union League, in
partnership with Caja Popular Mexicana, earned the 2005 Herb Wegner Memorial Award
for Outstanding Program. This very partnership has been a vehicle to test whether the
program can be taken to the next level and take on sophisticated assignments such as
purchasing of software, establishing call centers, conducting risk management, creating
operational manuals, and lobbying at the international level.
Another important event was the first-ever International Partnerships Workshop and Hike
the Hill. Twenty-seven individuals from 11 U.S. leagues involved in the program
participated in the first ever International Partnerships workshop held October 20-21, in
conjunction with International Credit Union Day. Representatives from Alabama, Arizona,
California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina,
Oregon, and Texas were able to highlight their partnership on Capitol Hill as they
demonstrated constituent support for WOCCU’s work and how credit unions put the
“people helping people” philosophy to work internationally.
At the workshop several WOCCU staff spoke about WOCCU’s approach to international
credit union development and how international partnerships complement the company’s
mission. In an interactive session, Nancy Buchan, assistant professor of marketing at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about cross cultural business behavior. To close the
workshop, Kasey Rockwell, director of credit union advocacy for the Credit Union
Association of Oregon, and Kathy Chartier, president and CEO of Members Credit Union,
Stanford Connecticut and the board chair of Connecticut Credit Union Association, led a
feedback session on partnerships.
Feedback indicated that the main concern was the promotion and awareness of the program.
A direct result of the feedback session was the creation of a weblog—or blog. The
International Partnerships Blog (http://partnershipsblog.blogspot.com) is used to instantly
publish information regarding program activities in a forum setting. Participants can post,
discuss, and seek individual partnership details on the interactive webpage. The program will
utilize this and other resources to increase awareness and make partnerships more inclusive.
The department goal continues to be making the partnerships as effective as possible.
Partners work with WOCCU to conduct planning sessions to set annual goals and work
plans for their partnerships. Each partnership conducts a feedback session at the end of
each quarter to measure work plan effectiveness so priorities and activities are continually
evaluated and realigned. This assures that the partnership remains focused and both
partners feel that their relationship adds value to their mission.
All partnerships are country-to-state league; some include credit union-to-credit union
matches under the state league umbrella. As of December 2005, WOCCU’s international
partnerships portfolio consisted of 19 active partnerships and 3 progressing toward formal