Dignitaries of the international credit union movement convened last week at the Russian Embassy to the United States in Washington, DC for World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) annual WOCCU Supporters' Reception. Led by Pete Crear, World Council chief executive officer, the meeting featured addresses by Gary Plank, World Council board chair, and Mary Cunningham, chair of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The topics of their speeches ranged from development work in Ecuador to Russia's new membership in the World Council.
Crear opened by introducing WOCCU board members Mark Bailey, Melvin Edwards, Ron Hance, Barry Jolette, Wayne Nygren, Catherine Roberts and Plank. He then welcomed Vadim Kalinichev, director general of the Russian Credit Union League, which joined WOCCU this year. After thanking the evening's host, Ambassador Yuri Ushakov, he presented Dr. Vadim Grishin, the embassy representative, with a gift from WOCCU.
Of WOCCU's 14 current projects, Plank focused on Ecuador, giving a personal account of what he experienced on his visit there. He described sitting in on the weekly meeting of a "solidarity group" in the small town of El Quinche. Lacking the money to become individual credit union members, 25 women banded together to form the group and joined the credit union together.
Plank told the story of one woman who used a credit union loan to purchase livestock, making her more self-sufficient and allowing her to generate savings, which she had never before managed. "Seeing firsthand the impact of WOCCU's work in Ecuador is a reminder of the transformative power of credit unions," said Plank in conclusion. "The pride of these women as they become individual members of the credit union is something I will never forget."
Mary Cunningham, chair of NCUF, spoke next, on the importance of philanthropy in keeping development programs alive. She described the successful fundraising collaboration of NCUF and WOCCU in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami, calling their partnership "natural." She added that the two organizations are currently studying ways to increase support for development of the entire credit union system.
The International Development Fund (IDF) launched at last summer's International Credit Union Conference in Rome shows great potential, explained Cunningham, having already grown from $3.8 million to $6 million. But much more is still needed, and WOCCU and NCUF have announced a joint campaign to double that amount. Cunningham closed by presenting Crear and Plank with a check from IDF income of $26,695.
Closing the speaker's portion of the reception, Mark Bailey, WOCCU board member and director of Dunshaughlin Credit Union in Ireland, invited Supporters to the 2006 World Credit Union Conference in Dublin, Ireland, which will be held July 27-30.
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, 56,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 101 países atienden a 200 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.