MADISON, Wis.—The credit union associations of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have joined World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). WOCCU's board of directors approved applications from the two countries' national organizations at its meeting earlier this month.
"We're very excited to welcome Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan to WOCCU," said Pete Crear, WOCCU's president and CEO. "The entrance into membership of two more former Soviet satellite countries that began as WOCCU development programs speaks to the strength credit unions can bring to developing nations."
The Azerbaijan Credit Union Association (AKIA) represents 56 of the 70 credit unions serving the country, and AKIA's member institutions serve 90% of the country's estimated 9,800 credit union members. The association is the first to receive WOCCU's new affiliate member designation, designed to admit credit union associations without the financial resources to support direct memberships.
"On behalf of all Azerbaijan credit unions, we will do all the work necessary to promote the development of credit unions in our country," said Elchin Bagirov, AKIA's chairman. "We plan to start our work immediately."
WOCCU's board of directors also accepted the Credit Union Association (CUA) of Uzbekistan as a direct member of the organization at the meeting. CUA was formed by 11 credit unions in 2005 as the first phase of WOCCU's development program in the Central Asian nation came to an end. WOCCU began working in Uzbekistan in 1998, laying the foundation for a national credit union movement. In 2002, the first credit union law was passed with the assistance of WOCCU and guidance from its Model Law for Credit Unions publication. The first three credit unions formed that same year, and today Uzbekistan is home to 78 credit unions that serve more than 99,000 members. The institutions hold US$80 million in assets and 4.6% of domestic retail savings accounts.
"We are honored to be part of the WOCCU community," said Nizomiddin Muradov, CUA's executive director. "We will put all our efforts forth to add value to the development of credit unions and their members worldwide."
As new WOCCU members, AKIA and CUA join Ghana Co-operative Credit Union Association and Seychelles Credit Union, which were admitted as members effective January 1. On that same date Abacus Australian Mutuals became Australia's member to the global trade association, assuming the role formerly occupied by Cuscal Ltd.
Representatives from the new member associations will be introduced and given the opportunity to speak to delegates at WOCCU's next Annual General Meeting, to be held in conjunction with the World Credit Union Conference, July 26-29, in Barcelona, Spain. Visit www.woccu.org/Barcelona09 to register for the conference.
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.