NADI, Fiji—From developing credit union bylaws to conducting a successful credit union meeting, operational basics dominated the agenda for the inaugural Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress, cosponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Fiji Savings and Credit Union League (FSCUL) and Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA). Nearly 200 participants from nine countries gathered for the week-long educational event that concluded Oct. 3.
The purpose of the congress, the first comprehensive meeting of its kind for the Pacific region, was to bring together credit union movements, their leagues, federations and government regulators from developing and developed nations in the Pacific region to share information and learn from each other. Attendees included credit union volunteers and professionals from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the United States and Vanuatu.
The high turnout made the Pacific Congress one of the most successful in WOCCU's series of regional educational sessions, according to Mark Cifuentes, WOCCU's senior vice president of technical services. Topics on the agenda, which also included defining board member authority and responsibility, financial management strategies and evaluating policies and procedures, filled a vital need for attendees, he added.
"While exploring the unique challenges of the Pacific credit union movement, participants also benefited from a return to the basics of cooperative and financial principles," Cifuentes said. "It was important to provide these emerging institutions with a solid foundation so that they can acquire the necessary skills to efficiently serve the needs of their members."
In addition to 156 attending the Congress, 36 attendees participated in the first year of WOCCU's Manager Certification Program, an intensive two-year course for credit union managers and aspiring managers. Certification program students study accounting basics, financial management and other topics specific to credit union operations. This year's participants are required to attend the second year of the program in order to complete certification requirements. Next year's certification program will be held in conjunction with the 2009 Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress.
"Other participants of the congress would agree with me that the event was a great success," said Tom Ha'aute, credit union services manager for Central Bank of Solomon Islands. "We've broken the ice and have passed a milestone for the whole movement."
Subsequent congresses and certification programs will be held in October in Banjul, The Gambia, and in November in Bucharest, Romania. For more information and to download a registration form, visit www.woccu.org/events/mcp or contact Nicole Bice at email@example.com.
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.