|New partners (front row, frron left) Eduardo Rojas, Caja Yanga; Garth Warner, Servus CU; and Margarito Saavedra, Caja Yanga; sign their partnerships agreement while (second row, standing) WOCCU's Victor Miguel Corro and Servus CU's Penny Reeves look on.|
EDMONTON, Alberta,Canada—On Oct. 8, a little bit of Canadian credit union history was made when Servus Credit Union, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, signed a formal partnership agreement with Caja Popular de Ahorros Yanga, S.C. de A.P. de R.L. de C.V., better known as Caja Yanga credit union, headquartered in Veracruz, Mexico. The partnership, facilitated by World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program, is the first direct relationship involving an individual Canadian credit union.
"Partnering Servus with an international credit union has been my dream for some time," said Penny Reeves, secretary of the WOCCU board of directors and director for the CN$10 billion (about US$9.6 billion) Canadian credit union. Currently, the only other Canadian partnership exists between Central 1 Credit Union of British Columbia, which operates similarly to a U.S. corporate credit union, and the Credit Union League of Hong Kong.
The formal partnership between Servus and Caja Yanga, which has assets of 300 million pesos (about US$22 million) continues the relationship begun in March. Officials from the two partner credit unions met in Córdoba, Veracruz, to examine Caja Yanga's outreach to rural communities and the success of WOCCU's PATMIR II project funded by the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA). The project has helped Caja Yanga grow its membership and strengthen its role as a financial institution.
Caja Yanga also has taken an additional member-service step outside of its partnership role as the pilot credit union for WOCCU's MatchSavings.org. The online program allows people around the world to match the small savings of individual Caja Yanga members through a dedicated Website. By helping Caja Yanga members save for things like housing, microenterprise, education and healthcare expenses, MatchSavings.org participants are helping the credit union's poorest members build savings habits as a first step toward overcoming poverty. (For more information, visit www.MatchSavings.org.
During a partnership visit to Edmonton earlier this month, Caja Yanga officials identified new product development, governance and ATM implementation as areas in which the Mexican credit union would like assistance. Caja Yanga is currently working with Union Coop of Mexico, part of WOCCU's for-profit subsidiary WOCCU Services Group, to launch a credit union-owned ATM network throughout Mexico. Caja Yanga needs assistance in developing sound policies and procedures to help better manage in-branch ATMs, an area in which Servus can help.
"We can learn from Servus' experience in rolling out new initiatives" said Margarito Saavedra, Caja Yanga's general manager. "We will place special emphasis on enhancing our electronic delivery channels."
Governance also became a topic of discussion for the Caja Yanga delegation, which, in addition to Saavedra, included Eduardo Rojas, chairman, and Francisco Perez, marketing manager. Rojas met with Reeves and other members of Servus' board of directors, to discuss credit union growth and board's role in facilitating rather than managing the process. In return, Servus officials hope their credit union's experience with Caja Yanga will help their employees stay in touch with their cooperative roots and make a contribution to international credit union development.
"I'm delighted to formalize this international partnership and hope to both share and gain from the experience," said Garth Warner, president and CEO of Servus. "No matter the size of our organizations, we share in our commitment to helping members."
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 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.