GLASGOW, Scotland — Greta Greathouse, chief of party for the Haiti Integrated Finance for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE), World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) development program in Haiti, has been honored with the second annual Leadership Award from the Global Women's Leadership Network (GWLN), a WOCCU program. Greathouse received the honor during the GWLN Forum held last month in conjunction with WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow.
The annual award honors outstanding achievements in support of credit union development, particularly as it relates to worldwide credit union women's leadership development. Greathouse had directed WOCCU's Haiti development program for just seven months before a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island nation in January 2010, taking more than 330,000 lives and rendering more than 1 million people homeless. The program lost it headquarters building, but all staff members survived the earthquake and immediately set about rebuilding Haiti's credit union movement.
"Greta exemplifies the leadership that we all aspire to," said Brian Branch, WOCCU's newly named president and CEO. "When the earthquake happened and most expats left the country, Greta stayed. She took care of her staff and let them find their families, then had them report back to work. Credit unions were back up and operating out of tents days after the disaster, well before other financial institutions."
Significant progress has been made in the Haiti program since the earthquake, with HIFIVE this year taking over administration of a US$10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop cell phone financial transaction capabilities for Haiti's residents. The country's caisse populaires, or credit unions, that were damaged in the earthquake also have begun rebuilding thanks to the more than US$1.2 million raised by the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions from members of the global credit union movement.
"Great leaders inspire others to act," said Susan Mitchell, GWLN chair and chief executive officer of credit union consulting firm Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates in Boulder City, Nev., USA. "Greta inspired members of the Global Women's Leadership Network and the people of Haiti with her determination and commitment in never allowing the credit union to be cut off from its members. She knew it was a lifeline for the community. In dire circumstances Greta demonstrated great leadership, and I was proud we had an opportunity to recognize her!"
Greathouse accepted the award at a special reception following GWLN Forum held prior to the conference. In her remarks, she recognized the contribution of her staff in rebuilding Haiti's credit unions.
"I am delighted to accept this award from WOCCU and the Global Women's Leadership Network," Greathouse said. "My work to help to stabilize and to rebuild the HIFIVE project and the credit union sector in the difficult days following the earthquake was a team effort. I share this award with my great team in Haiti and with the people of Haiti whose perseverance and dignity are an inspiration to me each day."
Last year, the organization's inaugural award was presented to Stan Hollen, president and CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, for his support of GWLN and the global credit union movement.
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.