Madison, WI – Four representatives from the Paraguayan credit union association, CENCOPAN met with members of the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) and the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MCUN) this week to sign a formal partnership agreement as part of WOCCU's Partnership Program. MCUN and CENCOPAN were paired in the fall of 2003 and this is the first meeting of the two organizations.
"We at the World Council are proud that credit union leaders from different cultures in the world like Minnesota and Paraguay have been able to find sufficient common ground to come together and sign this partnership agreement," said Arthur Arnold, President & CEO of WOCCU. "But let's be honest – what really counts is what's behind the signatures. It's really about People Helping People to help themselves. I wish this partnership every success," he added. "You are witnessing the best of what credit unions have to offer."
The group also held a planning session to develop a cooperative work plan that defines specific objectives for this effort. Three objectives were identified, along with specific efforts to accomplish those objectives.
1. To allow the Network Board of Directors and Network Staff to become acquainted with the Board and Staff of CENCOPAN.
· Arrange meetings in Minnesota and Paraguay to allow each to gain knowledge of each others organizations.
2. To assist the Paraguayans with legislative and regulatory development.
· Introduce the Paraguayans to the U.S. form of lobbying by bringing CENCOPAN representatives on a Hike the Hill visit to Washington, D.C., in 2004.
3. To help CENCOPAN advance in technology.
· Identify one or more "technology specialists" among Minnesota credit unions to research systems and make recommendations to CENCOPAN.
"The work plan we developed illustrates our strong commitment to this partnership and gets to the heart of our core goals with this initiative," said Kevin Chandler, Network president & CEO.
The Paraguayans were presented a Minnesota flag and Minnesota Timberwolves basketball jerseys. The CENCOPAN representatives included:
· Ramona Ríos Medina, Board Chair, CENCOPAN; · Modesto Segovia Boltes, Board Secretary, CENCOPAN; · Pedro Loblein, Board Treasurer, CENCOPAN; and · Francisco Barceló García, President, Cooperativa Universitaria.
"We are happy that we are here. Since we arrived in Minnesota on Sunday, we have felt at home," said Ramona Ríos Medina, president of CENCOPAN. "Even through we don't speak English, we are all speaking the same language today, the credit union language."
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.