MADISON, Wis. (3/31/09)--The credit union associations of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have joined the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). WOCCU’s board of directors approved applications from the two countries’ national organizations earlier this month. “The entrance into membership of two more former Soviet satellite [countries’ movements or associations] that began as WOCCU development programs speaks to the strength credit unions can bring to developing nations,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. The Azerbaijan Credit Union Association (AKIA) represents 56 of the 70 credit unions serving the country. AKIA’s member institutions serve 90% of the country’s estimated 9,800 credit union members. The association is the first to receive WOCCU’s new affiliate member designation, designed to admit credit union associations without the financial resources to support direct memberships. “On behalf of all Azerbaijan credit unions, we will do all the work necessary to promote the development of credit unions in our country,” said Elchin Bagirov, AKIA's chairman. “We plan to start our work immediately.” WOCCU's board also accepted the Credit Union Association (CUA) of Uzbekistan as a direct member of the organization. CUA was formed by 11 credit unions in 2005 as the first phase of WOCCU's development program in the Central Asian nation ended. WOCCU began working in Uzbekistan in 1998, laying the foundation for a national credit union movement. In 2002, Uzbekistan’s first credit union law was passed with the assistance of WOCCU and guidance from its Model Law for Credit Unions publication. The first three credit unions formed that same year. Today, Uzbekistan has 78 credit unions that serve more than 99,000 members. The institutions hold $80 million in assets and 4.6% of domestic retail savings accounts. “We are honored to be part of the WOCCU community,” said Nizomiddin Muradov, CUA executive director. “We will put all our efforts forth to add value to the development of credit unions and their members worldwide.” As new WOCCU members, AKIA and CUA join Ghana Co-operative Credit Union Association and Seychelles CU, which were admitted as members effective Jan 1. On that same date, Abacus Australian Mutuals became Australia’s member to the global trade association, assuming the role formerly occupied by Cuscal Ltd. Representatives from the new member associations will be introduced and given the opportunity to speak to delegates at WOCCU's next Annual General Meeting at the World Credit Union Conference, July 26-29, in Barcelona, Spain. For more information, use the link.