Paraguay/Minnesota International Partnership Continues to Grow
MCUN Board Chair Addresses International Conference in Paraguay
(l-r): Victor Corro of WOCCU, MnCUN board chairman Bill Raker and CENCOPAN board president Modesto Segovia Boltes.
Asuncion, Paraguay – Central de Cooperativas
Area Nacional (CENCOPAN)' s international
"Cooperatives: Viable Alternatives for Economic
and Social Development, Emphasis on Microfinance,
Regulation, Technology and Cooperative
Communication" was held June 2nd and 3rd in
Asuncion, Paraguay. In attendance were World
Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) international
partnership manager, Victor Corro, and William
Raker, board chair of CECOPAN's international
partner Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).
MnCUN and CENCOPAN have been working together for
the past two years and signed a formal
International Partnership Program agreement in
of 2004. Their areas of focus are (1)
and lobbying, (2) relationship with regulators
At CENCOPAN's invitation, Raker presented a
proposal for advancing to newer technology to the
400 conference attendees. Included in his
presentation was an outline of the findings of a
technology assessment conducted in October, 2004
by IT representatives from MnCUN and WOCCU,
recommendations for advance, suggestions for
preliminary steps, and an explanation of the
benefits of taking such steps.
"It may be easier to find reasons why
[technological improvements] can't be done than
is to commit to doing what must be done, but the
only eventual choice is to do it," Raker told the
attendees. "Acknowledging that positive,
committed, and focused mindset early on... is the
first step and most important step you can
Among his recommendations were careful and
selective deployment of technology, the
establishment of common or uniform standards for
hardware and software, and most importantly,
cooperation. "Cooperating is at the very heart
our fundamental philosophy of credit unions,"
Raker said. "It is our mission not only to help
our members, but to assist one another."
Another of Raker's cornerstone
the formation of a CENCOPAN technology council to
"confirm the shared need to advance technology
the benefit of all."
Representatives from CENCOPAN assured Corro they
would seriously consider Raker's suggestion. "It
is a very innovative idea, especially to include
credit unions of all sizes so that everyone has
equal voice," Corro said.
Following their speeches at the conference, Raker (left) and Corro (right) were interviewed by popular Paraguayan radio personality Cynthia Noguera, labeled a "media superstar" and known as the "Oprah Winfrey of Paraguay."
The benefits of such investments in
according to Raker, are better service to
the ability to offer more products and services,
improved productivity of staff, increased
accuracy, better security, and overall reduced
Also in attendance at the conference was
Ortiz, president of Instituto Nacional de
Cooperativismo (INCOOP), Paraguay's credit union
regulator. Raker and Corro spoke with Ortiz and
also visited with the USAID representative
for the U.S. Ambassador's office in an effort to
educate and update them on the efforts of WOCCU
and its International Partnerships.
Following their speeches at the conference,
and Corro were interviewed by a TV station, trade
press reporters, and participated in two one-hour
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.