European Credit Unions Expect U.S. Economic Crisis to Ripple East

WOCCU Technical Congress Addresses Credit Union Development Strategies

November 24, 2008

Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: (608) 395-2000
2008_11_24_Simion, Branch, Bierecki in Bucharest
WOCCU European Technical Congress attendees (left to right) Florin Simion, executive director of FEDCAR; Brian Branch, EVP/COO of WOCCU; and Grzegorz Bierecki, president of NACSCU, listen intently to speakers at the Bucharest meeting.

BUCHAREST, Romania—Current economic challenges facing the United States were topics of frequent discussion at World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) European Credit Union Technical Congress, which convened last week in Bucharest, Romania. To better help participating credit union industry members cope, presenters at the week-long congress offered strategies to strengthen credit union movements and help individual institutions better face the anticipated ripple effect of the growing U.S. economic crisis.

"These are challenging but promising times for credit unions," Brian Branch, WOCCU's executive vice president and chief operating officer, told nearly 150 delegates from 10 countries who attended the congress. Attendees included members of the Romanian government and the Central Bank of Romania. "People will be looking more and more to credit unions to help them face their economic challenges during this turbulent period."

Delegates from Ireland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan attended educational sessions designed to help European credit unions continue growing and serving members as the U.S. economic crisis travels east. According to local reports, the economic ripples are expected to gather strength and pose greater challenges to European credit unions throughout 2009 and into 2010.

2008_11_24_Grzegorz Bierecki in Bucharest
NACSCU's Grzegorz Bierecki emphasized the need for greater unity among Eastern European credit unions

"We're here to cooperate and support each other's work," Grzegorz Bierecki, president of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland's credit union trade group, and treasurer for WOCCU's board of directors, explained during his speech to conference attendees. "This is very important for us in Eastern Europe."

Educational sessions focused on financial management, credit union building, delinquency control, interest-rate setting and marketing. Seminars also stressed the importance of lobbying and developing model credit union law, policies and bylaws and the proper role and authority of board members. Educational sessions were simultaneously presented in English, Polish, Romanian and Russian.

The European Credit Union Technical Congress, co-sponsored by the Central Federation of Romanian Credit Unions (FEDCAR), was the final of four such sessions presented this year by WOCCU. Previous technical congresses were held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in August; Nadi, Fiji, in late September; and Banjul, The Gambia, in October.

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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

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