Dominicans Visit U.S. in Effort to Rebuild the Island’s Credit Unions
Delegation receives training, discusses strategies with World Council, state credit union leagues
April 12, 2019
MADISON, Wis.—Credit union executives from Dominica are in the United States to continue their work with World Council of Credit Unions in rebuilding a system devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Dominicans also are meeting with member organizations of the Wisconsin Credit Union League and Indiana Credit Union League for training and information exchanges during their visit.
Phoenix Belfield, Manager of Dominica Cooperative Societies League Limited (DCSLL), began the week meeting with World Council’s Advocacy team in Washington, D.C. on IFRS 9 international accounting standards and advocacy strategies for Dominica’s credit unions.
Belfield then traveled on to Madison, where he was joined by three other Dominican credit union colleagues: Aylmer Irish - CEO of National Co-operative Credit Union Limited, Jacqueline Roberts – Administrative Officer for National Co-operative Credit Union Limited’s Castle Bruce/La Plaine branch, and Ericson Robinson - General Manager for West Coast Cooperative Credit Union.
While in Madison, the Dominicans participated in training with World Council leaders on the PEARLS accounting system. They also met with officials from the Wisconsin Credit Union League, UW Credit Union and Blackhawk Community Credit Union to learn about governance, financial best practices, training, and advocacy.
The group will travel to Indiana next week for meetings with Indiana Credit Union League (ICUL) leaders on strategic planning for financial health and member services. The Dominicans also will learn about agricultural lending, services and technology from officials at Interra Credit Union, and discuss product operations and strategic planning with professionals from Afena Federal Credit Union.
The visit comes after World Council and ICUL members visited Dominica in 2018, just one year after Hurricane Maria damaged credit union headquarters and branch locations across the island—a major blow, since credit unions serve 97% of the island’s population.
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions—the charitable arm of the World Council—raised over $200,000 to rebuild DCSLLL headquarters, as well as ten credit union branches.
While the credit unions have been physically repaired, the economic impact is still being felt. Infrastructure and economic damages have impacted credit union balance sheets and income. Dominica lost 96% of its GDP in 2018 as banana plantations were destroyed, large amounts of farmland were washed away, and the local university moved to Barbados. Credit union loan performance was significantly impacted as a result.
The credit unions asked for technical support in working through the impact of the disaster on their financials and in putting in place improved risk-management systems. They also asked for advice in supporting their members who have lost their means of livelihood and have had to shift to new types of economic activity—such as agriculture.
“The money raised through our Disaster Relief Fund allowed us to respond to the physical damage caused by Maria, but both World Council and our state credit union leagues recognize there is much more work to be done to get the island’s credit union system completely back on its feet,” said Worldwide Foundation Executive Director Mike Reuter.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform 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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 85,400 credit unions in 118 countries serve 274 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.