Madison, WI—World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. and the Russian Credit Union League (RCUL) unveiled a three-year credit union strengthening program at the 5th National Conference on Microfinance held in Moscow, Russia, November 29 December 1.
The conference, "Microfinance in Russia: Elements of Success," was co-hosted by RCUL, a World Council Member, and the Russian Microfinance Center. RCUL chairman, Valery Kasatkin, and World Council of Credit Unions' senior manager of technical services, John Kalfayan, spoke about the direction of the new program, which focuses on building a safe and sound Russian credit union system.
The program stems from a World Council and RCUL assessment in June, when US league volunteers began developing a long-term strategy for strengthening Russia's 1,240 credit unions and rural credit cooperatives. That trip was followed by a visit in September, which resulted in the signed agreement between RCUL and World Council to conduct the three-year program.
"The promise of the Russian credit union system is immense," said Kalfayan, who recently helped design a training curriculum for Russian credit union executives visiting California. "Extremely accomplished and energetic people will be involved in this effort throughout Russia."
The effort includes advocacy support to overcome legal obstacles to credit union activities, training and technical assistance, and measures intended to strengthen the national and regional network of credit union associations.
In partnership with RCUL and with expertise from the Louisiana Credit Union League, World Council is founding a permanent training institute in Russia. The institute will provide instruction in both the basic credit union curriculum and the use of advanced World Council tools to produce certified trainers that will conduct national, regional and distance learning programs.
RCUL will host a training session on PEARLS financial performance monitoring system, and Poland's National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU) will organize a marketing training during RCUL's annual general meeting in Siberia in February. World Council, RCUL and NACSCU will also co-host an inaugural conference with intensive training sessions for eastern European countries in September.
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.