In light of the Russian invasion, some credit unions in the hardest-hit areas of Ukraine have lost their offices, while many others have had to close offices and suspend in-person operations.
This is especially true in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Sumy, Kyiv and other "oblasts" or regions where military activities are highly concentrated or where Russian forces have gained temporary control.
However, some credit unions in these regions are continuing to operate and help their members and communities despite the obvious risk.
World Council's USAID-funded Credit for Agriculture Producers (CAP) Project is supporting those credit unions. The CAP Project's advocacy efforts before the National Bank of Ukraine contributed to the implementation of regulatory relief norms for operations during wartime.
Now that these community-based financial institutions have been freed from some of the regulatory requirements and can spend less time on compliance and reports, they can exclusively devote staff time to help those in need.
A credit union located in Chernihiv Oblast – which remains under heavy attacks from Russian forces and is partially isolated from other regions of Ukraine – has stepped forward to help with the growing food shortage. The credit union's CEO asked local agricultural producers to share their stored products with people. The confidence earned through many years of honest service made it possible for the credit union to organize a coordination center that linked those agricultural producers and their local communities to ensure the fair distribution of food supplies among the people.
Another credit union operating in Kherson Oblast – currently controlled by the Russian forces – recently resumed its operations. They continue to pay out accrued interest to members and are still processing loan payments from some of their borrowers.
Kherson Oblast is the center of Ukrainian horticulture. As the agricultural season approaches, the credit union has already received requests for financing from local member agricultural producers. Thanks to cooperation with the CAP Project and the introduction of tested agricultural lending practices in its operations, this credit union has built reliable and trustworthy relationships with local value chain actors. As a result, the credit union has decided to relaunch the lending operations and agricultural financing activities despite the risks and the political and military uncertainty in the region.
The CEO remains optimistic and thinks that maintaining food supply chains for Ukrainian citizens is task number one for their credit union.
World Council of Credit Unions' Credit for Agriculture for Producers' (CAP) Project, a USAID-funded activity, provided the content for this post. Names of individual credit unions and their executives were omitted from this post out of security concerns.