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23 de junio de 2006

Spirits High in Russia Where Credit Unions Face Challenges

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WOCCU's Jeff Merriam visits with representatives from eight credit unions, local government officials, media and the Kusbas Oblast (state) credit union association.

Washington, DC—At the request of the Russian Credit Union League, the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) deployed a three- member assessment team to Russia from June 1 to June 11 to assess the status of the country's 700 credit unions serving 400,000 members and the newly established three-tier credit union system. The team, made up of WOCCU senior manager Mark Cifuentes, WOCCU business development manager Jeff Merriam, and WOCCU volunteer and president of the Louisiana Credit Union League, Anne Cochran, visited St. Petersburg and Moscow together before splitting up to visit smaller cities and rural areas.

"We found many small and young credit unions," said Merriam. "The current law limits their ability to grow by setting membership limits. But despite their challenges, we found credit unions to be serving people on fixed incomes, students and the working poor, giving them access to financial services when the banks don't consider them to be worthy customers."

Regional credit union associations, explained Merriam, provide training to credit union staff, consult on methodologies, provide assistance with information systems and promote the credit union movement. The regional associations provide the link that allows the national-level Russian Credit Union League to gather information from and provide services to credit unions.

"A number of the credit union people we encountered during our visit demonstrated energy, purpose and no small dose of competence," said Merriam. "But organization is critical if the League is going to reach the many credit unions operating throughout this huge country. Indeed, the sheer size of Russia presents a major challenge to the three-tier structure of credit union management."

WOCCU now turns its attention to working with the Russian Credit Union League—WOCCU's newest association member—to develop a road map to lead to viability of the credit union movement in Russia, including making available specific WOCCU tools and training.

El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.

El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 57,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 105 países atienden a 217 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en

Contacto principal: Rebecca Carpenter
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Teléfono: +1-608-395-2031
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