MDDCCUA Delegates Provide Governance Support in Nicaragua
The group visited Moderna Credit Union in Estelí to learn more about
credit union operations and governance in Nicaragua (l-r): John Link;
Julio Silva, Credit Manager of Moderna Credit Union; Michael DiGennaro;
Juan Altamirano; and Chris McHugh.
Washington, DC—As part of their international
partnership through World Council of Credit
Unions (WOCCU), two delegates from the Maryland
and District of Columbia Credit Union
Association (MDDCCUA) traveled to Nicaragua last
month to assist the Central Service Organization
of Nicaragua (CSO) in the area of governance.
The trip was a follow-up to CSO’s visit to
Washington, DC, in June.
The lack of regulation and supervision in
Nicaragua makes governance a hard problem to
tackle. Some Nicaraguan credit unions have
struggled with maintaining financial
disciplines, and overcoming these problems has
been made more difficult by inadequate
John Link, Treasurer of Agriculture Federal
Credit Union, and Michael DiGennaro, a member of
Federal Reserve Board Federal Credit Union’s
nominating committee, spent three days visiting
credit unions and working with CSO staff in
Nicaragua to devise a system that would help
credit union boards of directors recruit and
nominate qualified candidates.
The group first worked with CSO to provide
specific recommendations to credit unions for
establishing, implementing and regulating the
functions of the nominating committee, including
election procedures for volunteers, recruitment
and selection of board members and minimum
qualification standards, all within the
framework of credit union bylaws. The group then
presented their findings and recommendations to
Nicaraguan credit unions.
Chris McHugh, Chief Financial Officer of CSO,
and Juan Altamirano, CEO of CSO, both played
important roles in helping the team complete the
objectives. They provided background of the
Nicaraguan credit union movement and an
assessment of the movement’s operating
conditions. McHugh and Altamirano also shed
light on the provisions of Nicaragua’s
Cooperative Act, which have high quorum
requirements and call for a number of pre-
assemblies before annual meetings.
Link and DiGennaro gained first-hand
of the system when they visited two credit
unions in Estelí and Sébaco.
Credit union staff at both locations explained
that volunteers are traditionally nominated from
the floor of the annual meetings, and the
membership has little information about the
candidates to make informed electoral decisions.
“The idea of a nominating committee is new in
Nicaragua, and, at first, it was somewhat
misunderstood,” McHugh explained. “What we had
to make clear in this process was that the
nominating committees aren’t so much a filter as
they are a means to generate interest among the
membership to become volunteers and to enrich
the electoral process by providing more
information to the membership about the
Link and DiGennaro presented their findings
suggestions to a group of Nicaraguan credit
unions. Link spoke about “first principles”
governance with the main message, “Boards
govern, managers manage, and members own.” In
his presentation, he covered credit union
history and the evolving roles of volunteers and
hired staff. DiGennaro discussed the basic
functions of the nominating committee:
determining candidate qualification criteria,
recruiting, evaluating candidates and presenting
candidates to the membership.
“Our Nicaraguan counterparts saw that a
nominating committee could help their boards
achieve the balanced representation and skill
sets necessary for healthy, functional credit
union governance without trampling on principles
of egalitarianism in the committees' candidate
recruitment,” DiGennaro said. He indicated that
the next step will be for the Nicaraguan credit
union system to adapt the concepts they shared
into the cultural context of their country.
The MDDCCUA and CSO have been partners
WOCCU’s International Partnerships program since
2002. The partnership was developed to promote
the exchange of experience, ideas, and knowledge
in order to benefit all of the member credit
unions and movements involved.
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, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
Contact: Jennifer Bernhardt
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions