Ecuadorians’ Study Trip to Colorado Credit Unions “Fruitful”
WOCCU Delegation Gained Insight Thanks to Colorado Association Visit
|John Dill (fourth from right), Credit Union Association of Colorado president
and CEO, poses with a group of association staff and visitors from CACPE PASTAZA
credit union in Ecuador. The group includes (left to right) Pablo Santos, Tim
Dore, Karina Espín, Melia Heimbuck, José Miguel Acuña, Janeth Carrillo, Dill,
Pietra Dávila, Carmita Medina and Naila Espín.
DENVER—A delegation from CACPE PASTAZA credit union in Ecuador visited the
Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) and some of its member credit unions
last week, not to see how they had managed to avoid the global economic crisis,
but to examine how well they continued to serve members in spite of the
challenges. By all accounts, both the delegation and the credit unions came away
enlightened, according to John Dill, CUAC president and CEO.
“Our Ecuadorian friends visited Colorado at a particularly important and busy
period for the U.S. credit union movement,“ said Dill, whose organization
maintains a relationship with its Ecuadorian counterpart through World Council
of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “Our credit unions
are recovering from the challenges posed by the U.S. economy's meltdown, and
we're in the middle of major legislative fights over interchange fees and member
business loans while struggling with member growth. These are all good things
for our South American partners to experience and understand.“
The seven-person delegation came from Ecuador specifically to gain an
overview of the U.S. credit union movement, with a focus on the trade
association's role and the products and services it offers. The Ecuadorians
studied the association's financial education curriculum, its grassroots
outreach and lobbying efforts, compliance products and other services provided
to its members. Closer looks at the association's credit union service
organization (CUSO) and its Credit Union Service Network were also on the agenda
for the weeklong visit.
“There are a few ideas we can already implement in Ecuador,“ said Naila
Espín, manager of CACPE PASTAZA's risk management department. “Technology is
what we need to introduce very quickly.“
The delegation tapped into the expertise of several Denver-area credit
unions, including Denver Community Credit Union (DCCU), where the two groups
discussed ways in which DCCU might better attract and serve Latino members. The
Ecuadorians also came to understand DCCU's successes to-date using “low-wealth“
products, such as payday loans and financial education, to establish a strong
Latino member base.
At Premier Members Federal Credit Union (PMFCU), Boulder, the delegation
shared an overview of Ecuador's credit union system, including the country's
strict regulatory climate and the challenges that small, unregulated credit
unions pose to the system as a whole. PMFCU staff members shared their
strategies for managing risk and contingency planning. At BCS Community Credit
Union, Wheat Ridge, discussions focused on how small credit unions can improve
efficiency and thrive by utilizing the CUSO, something that enables the
six-person staff of the credit union to provide services similar to those of
institutions many times its size.
Throughout the week's discussions, ideas and information were exchanged in
both directions, providing the delegation's Colorado hosts with some insight
into the challenges faced and successes achieved by credit unions in Ecuador.
“No one should doubt that credit unions from thousands of miles away have
more in common with each other than we do with a local banker around the
corner,“ said Dill. “The long standing partnership between Colorado and Ecuador
is proof positive that the ‘people helping people' philosophy knows no
boundaries, no geography and no limits.“
Espín agreed. “The trip has been very fruitful for me and my co-workers,“ she
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
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