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February 11, 2011

WOCCU Announces 40th Anniversary Fund

New Effort Supports Loans to Small Farmers

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WOCCU EVP & COO Brian Branch (left) joins small-scale Kenyan farmers in examining their crop of stevia, a natural sweetener derived from a member of the sunflower family that is rapidly replacing much of Kenya’s tea crop.

MADISON, Wis. — World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is celebrating four decades of global service this year by rededicating itself to helping small-scale farm families in rural Africa and Latin America. The newly established 40th Anniversary Fund, supported by donations from individuals and organizations, will help provide financial products and agricultural training designed to support and stabilize farmers' often unpredictable income due to natural cycles in the growing season. Stability gained through loans from WOCCU-supported credit unions will enable farmers to better grow their farming enterprises and seek out the best prices for their crops.

"Financial stability and food security are two key issues facing the rural poor in developing countries," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO. "Donations to the fund will enable small credit unions to assist small-scale farmers to increase their yield, plant more profitable crops and better meet the food and nutrition needs of their families and their communities."

The fund is aimed at supporting farmers with two acres or less of land under cultivation in Africa and Latin America. With assistance provided by credit union development and agricultural extension staff, farmers will learn better crop production methods and receive financial support necessary to maintain cash flow and benefit from micro-business development strategies.

Farmers will realize greater profits from higher crop yields, which in turn will help increase food availability to the community. Participating credit unions will benefit from increases in the numbers of members and greater borrowing activity, which will help institutions grow and ultimately serve more members without the need for outside financial support, according to Branch.

"The 40th Anniversary Fund supports one of WOCCU's central development strategies," Branch said. "Donations to the fund will enable us to expand the program to more small credit unions which, in turn, will help more small-scale farmers, their families and their communities."

The fund helps celebrate the 40th anniversary of WOCCU, which was incorporated on Nov. 9, 1970, and opened its doors for business on Jan. 1, 1971. WOCCU evolved with the support of the global credit union movement from Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) World Extension Department, first established based on the recommendation of U.S. credit union pioneer Roy Bergengren and approved by CUNA's board on May 15, 1954.

To make a donation to WOCCU's 40th Anniversary Fund, visit www.woccu.org/40th_fund. You can also contact Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Executive Director Valerie Breunig at vbruenig@woccu.org or +1-608-395-2055 for more information.



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.

 


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Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
E-mail: rcarpenter@woccu.org
Phone: +1-608-395-2031
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