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October 12, 2009

WOCCU’s Branch to Lead Expert Panel Discussion on

ICU Day Webinar to Explore Savings as International Development Tool

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2009_10_12_Brian Branch
WOCCU's Brian Branch will discuss the success of during an expert panel discussion Thursday in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Can savings-led programs ensure poverty reduction in developing countries? Based on the initial success of, a matched savings program developed by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the answer is a resounding yes. Well known experts in savings-led microfinance will discuss the success of the program's initial phase in serving Mexico's rural poor during a special 75-minute International Credit Union Day event and simultaneous webinar, "Savings as a Tool for International Development." The New America Foundation, a nonprofit public policy institute based in Washington, D.C., is hosting the event.

The webcast, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15, from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT, will feature Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO, and a panel of experts discussing the efficacy of and other savings-led programs in helping alleviate global poverty.

Savings vehicles have proven to be effective tools that support poverty reduction in developing countries, according to Branch. The success of has shown the critical role online platforms can play in funding savings programs, he added.

"The rural poor may be best served through methodologies that enable them to create and maintain savings accounts that effectively support their financial futures," Branch said. "The success we have seen during the initial phase of, which allows someone anywhere in the world to match the first savings accounts of the poor, indicate what a powerful tool technology can be in facilitating financial empowerment in developing countries."

Joining Branch on Thursday's panel will be J.D. Von Pischke, author and former chairman of Frontier Finance International; Evelyn Stark, senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global development program dedicated to serving the poor; Daryl Collins, senior associate with Bankable Frontier Associates and co-author of Portfolios for the Poor; and Reid Cramer, director of the New America Foundation's asset-building program.

A Global Assets Project issue brief, "Promoting Savings as a Tool for International Development: Spotlight on WOCCU's," will be distributed at the event. The brief looks at matched savings programs in the developing country context and highlights the success has seen during the first phase of its program in Mexico's Veracruz state. It also addresses critical issues that arise in replicating and sustaining the model.

Participation in the "Savings as a Tool for International Development" event and simultaneous webinar is free and open to the public. Register at to attend the event at the New America Foundation, 1899 L St, NW Suite 400, Washington, D.C. To participate in Thursday's online event, simply visit the aforementioned Web page on Oct. 15. The webinar will be available for viewing after the event on and

The webinar immediately precedes a second WOCCU webinar on credit unions' global heritage featuring Pete Crear, WOCCU president and CEO. The 60-minute webinar will be broadcast from United Nations Federal Credit Union in New York at 2 p.m. EDT. It is co-sponsored by WOCCU and the Credit Union Development Educators program.

Contact Jennifer Bernhardt at (608) 395-2077 or for more information about the webinar and program.

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


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Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1-608-395-2031
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