John Radebaugh, North Carolina Credit Union League (NCCUL) president/CEO, and Brian Branch, executive vice president and chief operating officer and for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), traveled to Romania last week to assist its growing credit union movement.
The visit to the Eastern European nation is the second WOCCU-sponsored trip in the past few months, said the league (Weekly Update March 12).
Radebaugh and Branch traveled extensively through the country with Florin Simion, the Romanian Federation of Credit Unions (FEDCAR) president/CEO. "Our mission is to help Florin increase his membership and develop services he can offer to the Federation's members," Radebaugh said.
Romanian credit unions have no government oversight--and some 2,000 credit unions in the country have no verifiable internal controls. Separate from this group are 17 credit unions that are members of the FEDCAR that work together and have adopted PEARLS standards. PEARLS is the internationally recognized credit union monitoring system aimed at helping the world's credit unions be more safe and sound.
Radebaugh and Branch visited Casa de Ajutos Recirpoc Concordia in Curtea de Arges, a city of
about 25,000 people. A Casa de Ajutos Recirpoc (CAR), which translates as a "Mutual Help House," is Romania's equivalent of a credit union. "We learned a lot about their credit union and the challenges they face--some very similar to the challenges credit unions in North Carolina face every day," Radebaugh said.
Radebaugh and Branch asked why CAR members do business at the credit union instead of a bank. "We have heard the same answer at each credit union we have visited--trust," Radebaugh said. "Members trust credit unions and they don't trust banks."
In November, Jeff Hardin, NCCUL' director of communications, and Victor Corro, senior manger of WOCCU's international partnerships, visited the credit unions and made recommendations to FEDCAR aimed at helping the Romanian movement grow.
Radebaugh and Branch also met with the head officials of the County of Alba. They also were interviewed by four TV stations.
They also met with a meeting with several credit union officials to discuss FEDCAR and with Omar Corneliu, a member of Romania's House of Representatives.