(Rome, Italy) - From July 24-27, World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU), the international trade association and development organization of the credit union system, will host its inaugural World Credit Union Conference here in Rome. Over 1,100 credit union leaders from 41 countries worldwide will participate in the four-day conference at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton, addressing a range of issues pertinent to the world of financial cooperatives. The Conference will feature a number of informative keynote speeches and break-out sessions hosted by leaders in cooperative finance sector.
WOCCU's role in the world of credit unions is to promote their sustainable growth, providing the world's underprivileged with safe, affordable financial services. Currently, WOCCU's members can be found in 91 countries across the globe, with a total of more than 43,000 credit unions among them. As instruments of economic and social development, WOCCU, its regional confederations and its national member organizations serve more than 136 million people worldwide.
Although Italy is not an official WOCCU member, its cooperative banks are close cousins to the credit union, with similar goals and functions. Two Italian organizations will participate in the World Credit Union Conference in Rome, FEDERCASSE and ICCREA. FEDERCASSE is the head Federation for cooperative banks in Italy, uniting 500 such institutions throughout Italy's diverse regions. Its president, Alessandro Azzi, will deliver a welcome address at the Conference's International Welcome Reception on July 24. Roberto Di Salvo, international relations representative for the Federation, will moderate a Break-out Session on the last day entitled "International Governance Principles for Credit Unions: What Every Board Should Know."
The other Italian organization involved, ICCREA, provides financial and technical assistance to such groups as the BCC, of which FEDERCASSE is a part. Luigi Dante, general manager of ICCREA, will take part in the welcome ceremony along with Azzi, and Carlo Barberi, head of ICCREA's international department, will co-run a workshop on "Co-operative Banks: the German and Italian Experiences" on Tuesday, July 26. To provide a real-life glimpse into the workings of these institutions, Conference participants have been invited to tour some local co-operative banks on July 27.
The program of the upcoming Conference resembles, in many ways, the formats of WOCCU's International Leadership Institutes, which were held annually until 2004. But the World Credit Union Conference is unique in that it includes elements from two other WOCCU world meetings, the Annual General Meeting and the triennial Forum. If the meeting is a success, it will open a brand new chapter for WOCCU. As the Conference draws near, WOCCU and its members anxiously await the chance to make history of their own in a city so historically rich.
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.