PHOENIX, Ariz.—The Arizona Credit Union System (ACUS) this week signed a partnership agreement with the Antigua & Barbuda Cooperative Credit Union League to help the Caribbean island nation better serve its affiliated credit unions. The partnership agreement was arranged through World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU's) International Partnership Program.
Representatives from ACUS, which serves the 56 credit unions in the state of Arizona representing $12.2 billion in assets, visited Antigua last June as the first step toward an international partnership agreement. This week ACUS hosted a delegation of five representatives from the Antigua League. Ellis Southwell, president of the Antigua League, and Scott Earl, president/CEO of ACUS, signed a mutual agreement to make the partnership official.
"Credit unions, no matter where they are, are not that different," said Earl. "The bottom line is that it is all about the member. Our goal is to work with the Antigua & Barbuda Credit Union League to institutionalize the organization and allow it to serve its member credit unions more efficiently."
The partnership will focus on strengthening the Antigua League through the development of new revenue streams and new products and services to be offered to its affiliated credit unions. Currently, the Antigua League relies on its volunteer board of directors, its volunteer supervisory committee and dues-based structure to operate and serve affiliates. The Antigua League also would like to incorporate more training programs, including greater attention to compliance issues, into its member service program.
"One of the overriding principles of credit unions is people helping people, and this partnership is an extension of that philosophy," said Southwell. "The Antigua League is a small league with potential and we believe that this partnership with the Arizona Credit Union System will help unleash the possibilities and help us to develop ourselves so that we can assist our affiliates."
After the signing, Arizona State Credit Union, one of the state's largest credit unions, invited the delegates to tour its corporate headquarters and to engage in a dialogue with David Doss, the credit union's CEO. Even though Antigua's largest credit union has only about $24 million in assets in contrast to Arizona State's $1.1 billion, the two groups found common ground in discussing issues ranging from banking industry attacks to youth marketing.
"I can appreciate some of the challenges that [Antigua credit unions] face as it is harder to run these smaller credit unions with the new demand for technology and issues such as fraud and money laundering," said Doss. "Smaller credit unions have fewer resources, but are still impacted by the same challenges."
The delegates also met with First Credit Union where they viewed branch operations and discussed compliance related issues, and TruWest Credit Union, where they discussed a credit union-to-credit union partnership between TruWest and Antigua's Community First Cooperative Credit Union. This direct partnership would focus on areas specific to Community First, as well as credit union operations and best practices. The delegates toured Arizona's state capitol visiting two smaller credit unions, MariSol Federal Credit Union and Southwest Healthcare Credit Union.
The next step toward accomplishing the partnership's goal of strengthening the Antigua League will be to hold a strategic planning session this summer to formulate a specific action plan. ACUS will also continue to provide assistance in other key areas such as training in customer service, loan underwriting and marketing through the partnership.
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.