SLEEPY EYE, Minn. – Credit union visits were on the agenda Wednesday for the credit union representatives from CENCOPAN, a credit union trade association. St. Marys Federal Credit Union (SMFCU) in Sleepy Eye, Minn., welcomed the visitors for an afternoon of agricultural lending and technology discussions.
The four Paraguayans, along with an interpreter, are visiting Minnesota as part of their newly- formed relationship with the Minnesota Credit Union Network through of the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) Partnership Program. The group toured the credit union and visited Bruggeman Company, an implement dealership in Sleepy Eye that sells John Deere machinery and parts, and fixes equipment for area farmers.
"I was impressed with the good relationship that the credit union had with the dealership, allowing farmers to have better equipment," said Modesto Segovia Boltes of CENCOPAN.
CENCOPAN and its member credit unions are heavily involved in agriculture, as the credit unions in Paraguay fall under the umbrella of the Department of Agriculture. The main goal was to explain to the Paraguayans the process of Minnesota credit unions' agricultural lending programs and develop an understanding of our differences. "Credit unions in Minnesota finance fixed assets, like tractors, which is something we do not do in Paraguay," said Francisco Barceló García of CENCOPAN. "We mainly finance feed and fertilizer, but not large equipment." García said that such a key difference "opened his eyes" to additional services that credit unions may be able to offer to production cooperatives in their country.
Following the dealership visit, staff from SMFCU did various presentations on products and services, security systems, home banking and online check images.
"It was very interesting to see the similarities – overall, we all have the same issues but are just in different places," said Dick Nesvold, president & CEO of SMFCU. "We all do what we do for the betterment of our membership and the improvement of our communities, which is a predominant theme within Minnesota as well as other countries. It's very refreshing to hear."
On Wednesday morning the group visited Mid- States Corporate Federal Credit Union's Eagan, Minn., office. CENCOPAN, which is a both a trade association and a corporate credit union, learned about the U.S. corporate structure, investments and technology.
"I am most impressed by the technology that was shown that allows instant and constant communications among the Network, Mid-States Corporate and the credit unions themselves," said Pedro Loblein of CENCOPAN.
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.