MADISON, Wis.—Six delegates from the credit union network of the Dominican Republic, Asociación de Instituciones Rurales de Ahorro y Crédito (AIRAC), participated in their first technical visit to credit unions in Wisconsin and signed a partnership agreement with the Wisconsin Credit Union League (The League) last week. World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships program facilitates the partnership.
The League and the Dominican Republic delegation signed the partnership agreement at Wauwatosa Credit Union in Wauwatosa, Wis. The agreement is a binding contract that promises the free exchange of information, knowledge and cooperation between the two entities. The partnership will also make way for additional study trips between the two countries.
“It is very easy to get caught up in local matters, but this partnership allows us to get a broader look at the cooperative movement internationally,” commented Brett Thompson, The League president & CEO, who traveled to the Dominican Republic in June with a delegation from the Wisconsin league. “We look at AIRAC and see them experiencing the same problems that credit unions in Wisconsin have experienced in the past. That is where we can help them.”
The new alliance will foster a positive exchange of knowledge within the cooperative system, specifically in the areas of regulation and technology. Currently in the Dominican Republic, credit unions are not prudentially regulated. The League and WOCCU have agreed to assist AIRAC in designing a regulatory framework for credit unions. In the area of technology, The League will provide AIRAC guidance on developing drive-through capability in the country’s credit unions.
“The partnership will be a lot of help to us, especially being paired with an advanced league such as Wisconsin,” commented Virginio Gerardo, AIRAC CEO.
During the visit, delegates traveled to The League’s headquarters in Pewaukee, Wis., where they met with Thompson. There they learned about The League's functions and operations and visited Wisconsin’s largest credit union, Landmark Credit Union, as well as the Wisconsin Credit Union Shared Service Center.
The group traveled to Heritage Credit Union to learn about IT systems, targeted marketing and online banking and heard about Wisconsin credit union regulation and legislation on a visit to the Department of Financial Institutions. There they met with Lorrie Keating Heinemann, Department of Financial Institutions cabinet secretary and Suzanne Cowan, Office of Credit Unions director. The delegates also visited World Council of Credit Unions’ headquarters while in Madison.
On their last day stateside, the group had two more technical credit union visits to Marshfield Medical Center Credit Union in Marshfield, Wis., and Prospera Credit Union in Appleton, Wis.
Victor Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships manager, was pleased to see the relationship between The League and AIRAC blossom. “I feel that the two movements have much to share and teach each other through the partnership. The Wisconsin Credit Union League definitely has the knowledge and resources to provide the guidance and counsel that AIRAC needs.”
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.