Russian CU Executives Receive Training in California
Visiting Russian credit union delegates pose with (seated, l-r): Bill Cheney, CEO of California/Nevada Credit Union League, Alexander Solomkin, deputy CEO of the Russian Credit Union League, Lucy Ito, VP of Research, Communications & Public Affairs at California/Nevada Credit Union League and Barry Jolette, CEO of San Mateo Credit Union and World Council director.
Madison, WI—Eleven credit union
professionals from eastern Russia recently
participated in a two-week credit union
management and governance training in
California. San Mateo Credit Union hosted the
visit, with support from World Council of Credit
Unions, Inc., Center for Citizen Initiatives
(CCI) and the Chatfield Fund.
CCI contacted San Mateo Credit Union CEO
Jolette to arrange training for Russian credit
union executives in California. Jolette worked
with World Council chief operating officer,
Brian Branch, to develop topics, arrange
speakers and provide training facilities.
"It was a terrific opportunity to work with
of the newest member countries of World
Council," said Jolette, who also serves as
second vice chairman on the World Council board
of directors. "Our new friends from Russia, a
country larger than the United States, came with
an equally large interest in learning all they
could about our United States credit union
The former Soviet Union suspended its once
thriving credit union system in the 1930s until
the Russian Federation emerged sixty years
later. World Council has provided technical
assistance to Russia since its credit union
revival in the 1990s. Today, there are
approximately 750 credit unions and 490 rural
credit cooperatives serving 500,000 members
across Russia. The Russian Credit Union League
became a World Council member this year.
During their stay in California, the Russian
delegates attended a series of business
management training sessions led by business
leaders and credit union professionals.
Jolette and the San Mateo Credit Union staff
sessions on the US credit union system,
financial management and planning, marketing
strategies, lending, staff training, information
technology, savings and risk management and
governance. The visitors also attended a San
Mateo Credit Union board meeting to witness
rules of governance and structure in action.
World Council's Steve Schaefer, who provides
support on information systems to World Council
field offices and credit unions as program
manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, led
a session on PEARLS monitoring software.
California/Nevada Credit Union League CEO,
Cheney, and vice president of research,
communications and public affairs, Lucy Ito
outlined league services to the group.
My Credit Union hosted a training session on
lending services; Palo Alto Community Federal
Credit Union welcomed the delegation for a
session on marketing; and the group traveled to
United Health Credit Union to explore its menu
of credit union products. The credit union
executives also visited Redwood City Sequoia
School Employees Federal Credit Union.
The director of National Credit Union
Administration's Office of Public and
Congressional Affairs and the credit union
regulator from the Department of Financial
Institutions also met with the group to discuss
legislation, regulation and supervision.
Branch explained that the visit exemplified
wealth of knowledge US credit unions have to
share with developing credit union systems like
that in Russia. In June, for example, RCUL
invited a World Council team—including
Louisiana Credit Union League CEO Anne
Cochran—to carry out a credit union
assessment. As follow-up, World Council staff
and a team of five US league volunteers visited
Russia in September to begin developing a long-
term strategy for strengthening RCUL.
"Through their outreach, US credit unions
provide financial access and democracy building
worldwide," Branch said.
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.