GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and the St. Lucia Credit Union Co-operative League signed an international partnership agreement on May 15 at a special ceremony in Grand Rapids, Mich. The agreement is the latest of 29 such relationships overseen by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) as part of its International Partnerships Program.
The signing ceremony took place during MCUL's 2008 Annual Convention and Exposition, a three-day conference of speakers and educational sessions for Michigan credit unions. Attending from St. Lucia were Emmerlyn Monrose, manager of St. Lucia Civil Service Credit Union; Rupert Branford, director of Elks Credit Union and director of the St. Lucia Co-operative League; and Alexander Joseph, CEO of the St. Lucia Co-operative League.
"We are very happy and appreciative that WOCCU and MCUL have effectively started a partnership with St. Lucia, a developing credit union movement with lots of room to grow," Joseph said. "MCUL and credit unions have expressed a keen interest in getting to know other movements and cultures, which demonstrates the cooperative spirit of our movement. We look forward to making key achievements."
"We would like the credit unions in St. Lucia to see how mergers work and study their advantages and disadvantages," said Victor Miguel Corro, International Partnerships manager for WOCCU, who was present at the ceremony. "We'd also like them to better understand marketing strategies that will help them attract new members and satisfy member needs with sophisticated, updated and relevant credit union products and services."
David Adams, MCUL president and CEO, welcomed the St. Lucia delegates to the ceremony and made clear the importance of international partnerships.
"Strengthening the credit union system worldwide is a vital effort for the future of the industry, and the St. Lucia partnership is an excellent opportunity to help do this," Adams said. "We're excited to work with WOCCU in further developing the credit union community on St. Lucia."
The partnership will help support WOCCU's technical assistance project in St. Lucia, one designed to shore up the country's credit unions so they can provide stronger support to the island's farmers, many of whom lack the resources necessary to grow produce, primarily bananas, to sell to the luxury hotels that are part of the island's growing tourist industry. WOCCU plans to ask for MCUL assistance in conducting market studies to determine the quality and capabilities of St. Lucia credit unions' agricultural lending programs to support those efforts, said Matt Garcia, a WOCCU program manager.
"Helping island farmers become self sufficient is vital to their survival in a rapidly changing island economy," Garcia said. "Thanks to the Michigan League's generous involvement, we'll be better able to accomplish that goal."
Two MCUL staff members visited St. Lucia in November 2007 to conduct a needs assessment and familiarize themselves with the people and culture. An island nation approximately 28 miles long and 13 miles wide, St. Lucia is home to 15 credit unions. Approximately 150,000 people call St. Lucia their full-time home, with one-third of the population belonging to a credit union.
Organized in 1934, the Michigan Credit Union League is a statewide trade association representing Michigan credit unions. Based in Northville Township with a satellite office in Lansing, the MCUL offers credit unions assistance in the areas of regulatory compliance, legislative advocacy, media advocacy and operational information. For more information, visit the MCUL's Website at www.mcul.org.
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.