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June 27, 2004


Missouri & Barbados Sign International Partnership Agreement

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Madison, WI-The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) and the Barbados Cooperative and Credit Union League (BCCUL) signed a formal commitment to mutual knowledge exchange and assistance, becoming the newest members of the World Council of Credit Unions Inc. (WOCCU) International Partnership program.

Started in 2000, the program couples credit unions from developing countries with those in the United States. A hugely successful program, it has grown to include sixteen partnerships from countries as wide-ranging as Rwanda, Uzbekistan, Ecuador and Macedonia.

WOCCU has high hopes that this new pairing will prove to be as great a success as the others, which have seen fruitful knowledge exchange, dramatic restructuring of organizational and monitoring systems and, in Kenya, the drafting of entirely new legislation to support credit unions. Victor Corro, WOCCU project specialist for Latin America stated, "It's always inspiring to see new partnerships willing to work together towards the common goal of helping members."

The agreement was signed halfway through a four- day visit by MCUA representatives to the island that included a trip to BCCUL's largest credit union, a meeting with their board president Ashton Turney and general manager Anthony Pilgrim, and national media coverage there.

In addition, MCUA's Don Cohenour, senior vice president of credit union development, hosted an asset liability management workshop for board members from approximately twelve credit unions. Joining Cohenour from MCUA was Rosie Holub, chief executive officer and president, and Hal James, chairman and credit union president.

"We had a very productive visit," reported James. "There are many similarities between credit unions in Barbados and in the USA. Their members' needs and the competition they face from other financial institutions is virtually the same as what our credit unions deal with." James continued, "The partnership we have created has the potential to significantly improve the ability of all Barbadian credit unions to continue strong growth and meet the financial needs of their members continued The partnership we have created has the potential to significantly improve the ability of all Barbadian credit unions to continue strong growth and meet the financial needs of their members."

Holub shared, "The trip was an opportunity for us to learn more about league and credit union operations in Barbados. We were able to visit the league (BCUL) and several credit unions to determine how we can mutually benefit from our partnership."

The partnership has four main goals for strengthening the Barbados system: providing members with affordable credit and debit cards, establishing a reliable ATM system, creating a shared branching organizational structure and improving public and legislative advocacy for credit unions.

Particularly in terms of shared branching, Missouri will provide an excellent model for Barbados, since MCUA's system is highly developed in this area. BCCULL also hopes to gain from observing the inner workings of MCUA's cards system.

Regarding legislative advocacy, the credit union movement in Barbados already enjoys a uniquely close, positive relationship with its government. Because both credit union leagues are strong in this area, knowledge exchange will be truly mutual, exemplifying the International Partnership program at its best. The next activity of the partnership will take place in Missouri from September 27 to October 2.



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.

 



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