Madison, WI—Credit union leaders from the United States and Canada joined World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to launch its new development initiative with the People’s Bank of China (PBC), June 11-20, 2007. Led by Barry Jolette, WOCCU Second Vice Chairman, and Brian Branch, WOCCU’s Executive Vice President, the delegation met with top Chinese officials and visited rural credit cooperatives (RCCs) in China’s poorest province.
Although China’s financial sector has been liberalized in recent years, most of the 1.3 billion people there still lack access to basic financial services, particularly in rural areas. Located in some of the poorest regions, the more than 30,000 RCCs throughout China have great potential to provide affordable financial services to the underserved majority.
“The credit union model is a robust vehicle for expanding financial services to rural producers, small business owners and consumers in China’s rapidly growing economy,” Branch explained. “WOCCU has received a number of requests for information and assistance to share that model in China.”
The WOCCU delegation conducted a seminar for PBC officials and met with officials from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) in Beijing to explain credit union financial management standards, governance principles and business system models. The team then traveled to China’s poorest province, Guizhou, to visit RCCs and conducted a seminar on the credit union model for provincial RCC officials. During the visit, WOCCU and PBC officials established the framework for a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop credit union operational guidelines and a sector policy framework for credit unions in China.
Of the trip, Jolette commented, "This was an incredible experience for the members of the delegation. We all came back with an appreciation for the enormity of the opportunities and challenges involved in bringing true credit union service to the people of China.” He continued, “With the Chinese government seeking help to improve the lives of the rural people, the time is right for WOCCU to bring the democratic credit union model to China. It is a huge task, but we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people."
Members of the delegation included: Lee Butke, President & CEO, Corporate One Federal Credit Union; Sarah Canepa Bang, CEO, Financial Service Centers Cooperative; Bill Cheney, President & CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, Barry Jolette, WOCCU Second Vice Chairman and President & CEO, San Mateo Credit Union; K. Dwayne Naylor, Executive Vice President, Langley Federal Credit Union; Penny Reeves, WOCCU Director, Board Member of Credit Union Central of Canada and Chairman of Credit Union Central of Alberta; Gary Plank, WOCCU Chairman, President & CEO, Arizona Credit Union System; Larry Sharp, President & CEO, Arrowhead Central Credit Union and Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, President & CEO, Travis Credit Union. Ralph Swoboda, WOCCU’s advisor on China, supported the trip.
WOCCU is now completing an assessment of the RCCs in Guizhou province and developing an operational model and policy framework for credit unions there.
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.