Caja Popular Mexicana Annual Meeting
League Representatives Attend Annual Meeting Of Mexico's Largest Credit Union
April 28, 2005
Arrowhead CU Board Chairman Marie Alonzo and Water and Power Community CU CEO Carl Stewart, both members of the League's Diversity Committee, and League Manager of International Relations Letty Cordon-Hernandez attended Caja Popular Mexicana's (CPM) Annual Meeting, held April 22-23 in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.
More than 350 participants attended the two- day annual meeting that also featured local and international speakers. "Integration, Transcendence, and Consolidation of Caja Popular Mexicana" was one of the topics presented by Professor Florencio Eguia Villaseñor, considered to be the father of credit union philosophy in Mexico. In his presentation, he explained the two main values of CPM's historical evolution: identity and commitment. CPM established its identity as a credit union through its commitment to offer better services, new products, training, financial education, and technology.
A second panel discussed "Credit Unions and their Contributions to Socioeconomic Development." Manuel Mariño with Alianza Cooperativa Internacional (ACI) conveyed one of ACI's main objectives is to promote and strengthen different types of cooperatives throughout the world including credit unions. World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Interim CEO and COO Brian Branch highlighted four international objectives of credit unions: (1) financial strength, (2) quality of services, (3) technology, and 4) financial integration.
Branch explained financial strength encompasses good sound management practices in finance including maintaining the financial integrity of the credit union. Quality of services includes access to credit and branch locations, efficient service delivery, variety of products designed for every market niche, and competitive rates. Technology to ensure safe and secure transaction environment, ability to support better services, and opportunities to support new product development. Financial integration emphasizes managing credit union liquidity, capital investment, and transaction services.
Caja Popular Mexicana CEO Ramón Imperial Zuñiga emphasized the importance of CPM's role in the international credit union movement. CPM has a formal alliance with WOCCU and the League along with other international organizations, including International Raiffaisen Union (IRU), Latin American Confederation of Credit Unions (COLAC), and ACI. He reported the $883 million-asset-sized CPM has 837,919 members in addition to 200,000 youth accounts reaching more than 1 million people. CPM currently has 329 branches in 23 states, of which 40 percent are located in rural communities where there are no other financial services available. CPM, with the support of WOCCU-Mexico, will implement the first stage of their IT system conversion in the month of June.
Ramón emphasized CPM will continue to ensure it remains a true and authentic credit union managed in a professional manner. In closing, he stated,"We must keep our sights high, but our feet firmly planted on the ground, and maintain a sense of humility and simplicity, avoiding vanity and arrogance."
Imperial Zuñiga and CPM's Board Chairman Lázaro Semintal Ballona expressed their sincere appreciation to the League representatives for attending the meeting as their special invited guest. The League's participation at CPM's Annual Meeting is important to CPM because the representatives serve as witnesses that the credit union is conducting its meeting in a democratic and professional manner. Both Alonzo and Stewart were impressed by the credit union's annual meeting.
"It was extremely rewarding in that it was very inspirational," said Alonzo, making her trip to CPM's annual meeting. "It was wonderful to see how organized, professional, and inclusive the meeting was conducted. There was such as show of commitment, loyalty, and love of the members that they serve. They realize the importance of the service they provide."
During the meeting, more than 300 people—both members and staff—posed questions, Alonzo said. The administration, she added, was pleased by the level of participation. "The one thing that was constant was the joy of their sense of responsibility," she said of the credit union officials.
Stewart said he felt how much the officials and staff from the Mexican credit union appreciate the support it receives from its credit union friends in the U.S. CPM leaders spoke glowingly about their trips and visits with U.S. credit unions, Stewart said. "They say we give them little gifts, gems," he added.
American credit unions, even smaller ones, serve as borrowing models for CPM. "They rely on us as their support mechanism, their friends," Stewart added.
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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.