GLASGOW, Scotland — Manuel Rabines, general manager of Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito del Perú (FENACREP), the trade association serving Peru's credit unions, has been named chair of World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) board of directors. Rabines, who succeeded previous chair Barry Jolette, president and CEO of San Mateo Credit Union in Redwood City, Calif., USA, formally accepted the chair's chain of office during the World Credit Union Conference's general session on Tuesday.
"Together with my family, there is nothing more important to me than the credit union movement," Rabines said. "The challenge for WOCCU is to continue being an enduring voice for credit unions around the world and dedicate its greatest efforts to articulating and defending our cause."
Rabines joined the Peruvian credit union movement in August 1962 as an assistant at Santa Elisa Credit Union, then Peru's largest financial cooperative, and eventually became its CEO. Since 1988, he has held the position of FENACREP's general manager, interrupted from 1990-1992 when he served as Peru's deputy minister of labor.
Other new board officers, elected at WOCCU's annual general meeting Monday afternoon, include First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, Poland; Second Vice Chair Anne Cochran, USA; Treasurer Daniel Burns, Canada; and Secretary Louise Petschler, Australia. Veteran directors Penny Reeves, Canada, and Catherine Roberts, USA, left the WOCCU board Monday, and their positions were filled by Scott Kennedy, Canada, and Patrick Jury, USA.
Tuesday's general session also included a panel discussion focused on credit unions' social responsibility and how "giving back" to members can actually propel credit union growth forward. The panel, moderated by WOCCU Secretary Louise Petschler, included Tamara Vrooman, CEO of VanCity, Canada's largest credit union; Jeff Post, president and CEO of CUNA Mutual Group; and Peter Marks, group chief executive of The Co-operative Group, the United Kingdom's largest business cooperative.
Panel discussion topics included business ethics, the challenge of good governance, developing a connection with and commitment to the community and dealing with difficult regulatory requirements. Throughout the session and the subsequent question-and-answer period, panelists stressed that a high ethical level can generate multiple types of return that are both profitable and critical, especially in light of credit unions' strong performance during the global economic crisis.
"Values and trust form a critical stepping stone, but providing good products at competitive prices is necessary for success," Post said. "We're facing the greatest opportunities of the past 40 or 50 years. If we can figure out how to vault the regulatory hurdles, we're going to shine."
Vrooman agreed, noting that serving the member is not only the right thing to do, but one of the best possible business strategies.
"We are the good guys, and we have tremendous responsibilities given the trust of our members," Vrooman said. "Now we have to execute that trust with confidence, because it's confidence that will allow us to be a success in the future."
Tuesday's slate of speakers also included Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), who discussed the 2012 United Nations International Year of Cooperatives and the importance of having all cooperatives participate in order to strengthen the cooperative image globally.
"WOCCU is one of ICA's most important members, and I am delighted to see they are a big part of the International Year of Cooperatives," said Green, a former member of the European Parliament. "Acting together, we have a chance to create the strongest growth opportunities for cooperatives and credit unions that we have seen in decades."
WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference runs through July 27.
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.