Congressional Staff Trip to Explore Credit Unions in Mexico Concludes
During a visit to the Michocan project in a rural part of Mexico, U.S. congressional staffers hold ceramics that the women make and sell.
MORELIA, Mexico – The first-of-its-kind
Congressional staff trip – organized and co-
sponsored by the World Council of Credit Unions,
Inc. (WOCCU), the Credit Union National
Association (CUNA), and the Arizona, California
and Texas credit unions leagues – wrapped up here
Friday evening after a day in the field meeting
poor microentreprise credit union members.
Upon arrival in Tarecuato, a small community
three hours by car from Morelia, the group was
greeted by credit union members involved in the
WOCCU Michoacán project – the vast majority
indigenous women who sew elaborate traditional
dresses and aprons to be sold both within and
outside their community. Each member of the
group, together for four months and meeting every
eight days, saves 30 to 70 pesos (around $3 to $7
U.S. dollars) per month. Pooling their money,
group members can then apply for loans. Before
WOCCU and the credit union that adopted this
group came to their community, group members told
the Congressional and league delegation, the only
access to loans was through local loan sharks who
charged very high interest rates. Now they
borrow at reasonable rates and are accumulating
savings, as well.
"This trip has been one of the best
have had to see the real impact that credit
unions can have on peoples' lives. It really
showed our group a comprehensive look at how
credit unions impact peoples lives, from the
legislative process in Washington, DC all the way
to the most remote, poor regions of Mexico where
people are for the first time gaining access to
financial services" says Michael Considine,
deputy legislative director and senior
legislative assistant for international trade,
investment, and development for US Senator Chuck
Considine, one of six Congressional staff
on the trip – including representatives from the
offices of Rep. John Carter (R-TX), Rep. Joe
Crowley (D-NY), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Rep.
Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
and Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ), echoed the reflections
of a number of trip participants, saying that he
will "tell anybody who will listen" about his
experience in Mexico.
Among the many topics discussed during the
was the "credit union difference" and how it
extends to credit unions around the
world. "Things start clicking when you're able
to understand on a more basic level how credit
unions work," says WOCCU Governmental Affairs
Manager Molly Schar. "The not-for-profit,
democratically controlled, cooperative structure
of credit unions is consistent anywhere you go.
Understanding how credit unions start and grow
and help people internationally is actually a
very good way to better understand the work of
credit unions in the U.S."
The WOCCU Michoacán project was one of three
credit union development projects visited by the
delegation. Earlier in the week, the group
visited Caja Popular Mexicana, Mexico's largest
credit union partnered with the California and
Texas credit union leagues through WOCCU's
International Partnership Program, and Caja
Libertad, the second-largest credit union in the
country and the international partner of the
Arizona Credit Union System.
El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.
El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 51,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 100 países atienden a 196 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.