Madison, WI-The Ukrainian National Association of Savings and Credit Unions (UNASCU) organized a two-day meeting in Kiev last week for credit union leaders from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Leaders from US Central and Mid-States Corporate Federal Credit Union attended, as well as World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) president and CEO Arthur Arnold, who delivered the keynote address.
During his address, Arnold congratulated credit union systems in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine for the progress they have made. Poland and Lithuania succeeded in joining the European Union, as many countries in the area hope to do, in 2003. Romania and Ukraine are preparing to comply with European Union (EU) legislation and regulation so they may join in coming years.
Arnold also praised the partnership between Self- Reliance Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, based out of Chicago, Illinois and UNASCU. Bohdan Watral, CEO, and board members John Oharenko and Victor Wojtychiw, represented Self-Reliance at the Kiev meeting.
At the meeting, a new partnership was born, as Dan Kampen, US Central president and CEO, Ron Koza, vice president and CIO of Mid-States Corporate Federal Credit Union, and Petro Kozynets, president of UNASCU and its central credit union, signed a mentoring agreement. The agreement will provide UNASCU with $20,000 in funding for technical assistance. Both United States partners will also provide, through WOCCU, a loan facility up to $200,000 for the Central Finance Fund in the Ukraine Central Credit Union.
"As America's wholesale corporate credit union, we were pleased to partner with Mid-States in helping plant seeds for the credit union movement in the former Soviet block countries of Eastern Europe," said Dan Kampen, president and CEO of U.S. Central. "Our movement is truly international in scope, so were always delighted to play a role in helping achieve the worthwhile goals of credit union both in the U.S. and abroad."
Two common themes discussed by all participating credit union systems was credit union specific legislation and regulation and the need to increase the quality and competence of boards and staff at the primary, secondary and national levels.
In response, Arnold proposed that the seven Central Eastern European credit union systems present form a new partnership with WOCCU, to organize a five-day regional conference for credit union leaders. He sited the success of WOCCU's regional conferences in Latin America and Africa.
Credit union leaders agreed to enter into such a partnership, and the Polish CU system accepted their nomination to be the host country for the 2005 Regional European Conference in Gdansk, Poland. The Russian credit union system asked to host the 2006 conference in Moscow, Russia.
"Sharing knowledge and experiences is the great value of meetings like these," noted WOCCU's Arnold. "Partnerships like the EU Initiative between the Irish League of Credit Unions (Ireland), the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (Poland), WOCCU and the Mentoring Partnership between US Central, Mid-States Corporate Federal Credit Union and Ukrainian Central Credit Union are the way to go forward," Arnold continued.
While in the Ukraine, Arnold visited with Viktor Suslov, chairman of the State Commission for Regulation of Financial Services Markets (SCRMFS) in Ukraine and Andriy Olenchyk, director of the State Commission's credit union supervision department, to discuss the implementation of the new credit union law and regulation in the Ukraine, requiring re-registration of all credit unions. Since compliance with new benchmarks will be mandatory this will greatly improve the soundness and safety of member savings.
He also met with the World Bank's Angela Prigozhina, head of the Financial Sector, to receive an update on the implementation of the World Bank's work plan for the financial sector, including the supervising of the credit union system in Ukraine.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.