|WOCCU's Brian Branch (left) and Dave Richardson (right) load critical supplies that Greta Greathouse (center) will take back to her staff in Port-au-Prince.
JIMANI, Dominican Republic — The future of Haiti's credit unions lies not only in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake, but in the global credit union movement's ability to help Haiti's 175 financial cooperatives rise to higher levels of member service. That was the message Greta Greathouse, head of WOCCU's operations in Haiti, communicated during a phone interview Wednesday.
"Keep your eyes on Haiti," said Greathouse, chief of party for the Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program, a $34.4 million multi-partner program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. "There will be a lot of opportunities for credit unions around the world to participate in rebuilding Haiti's financial services sectors."
Greathouse had driven to Jimani on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border to meet WOCCU executives and collect much-needed supplies for her staff of 16, all of whom had survived the earthquake. Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO, and Dave Richardson, WOCCU senior manager in charge of the Haiti program, were able to meet Greathouse at COOPRENE credit union at the border thanks to the assistance of the Asociación de Instituciones Rurales de Ahorro y Crédito (AIRAC), WOCCU's member organization in the Dominican Republic.
"The images you see on TV are surreal, but they do not do justice to Haiti's devastation," said Virginio Rafael Gerardo, executive director of AIRAC. "Even though the Dominican Republic is a poor country, we will do all that we can to help."
AIRAC provided logistical support, transportation, security and US$1,000 worth of critical supplies to WOCCU's Haiti staff. Credit Union National Association (CUNA), WOCCU's U.S. member organization, provided the satellite phones that Branch and Richardson brought with them to the Dominican Republic.
Haiti's credit unions were already reaching out to provide financial services to the country's rural poor, according to Greathouse. Those efforts will become even more critical in light of the earthquake's devastation.
"Credit unions play an incredibly important role, particularly in rural areas," said Greathouse. "It's always been our goal to extend those services, and that's something that WOCCU members have been very good at supporting."
To hear the entire audio interview with Greathouse, click here:
To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members, make payments via check, credit card or wire to:
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA
Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org /give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.
U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop.
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.