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Bolivian leaders visit partners in Ohio
DUBLIN, Ohio (7/31/08)--Bolivian credit union and bank leaders visited the Ohio Credit Union League on Monday as part of a continuing partnership among the league, Corporate One FCU (Corporate One) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Click to view larger imageOhio Credit Union League staff met with credit union and bank leaders from Bolivia during a visit sponsored by the World Council of Credit Unions. (Photo provided by the Ohio Credit Union League)
League staff briefed their guests through an interpreter on services they provide to the 427 credit unions in Ohio and on the impact of state and federal regulations on not-for- profit financial institutions in the U.S. “The U.S. Agency for International Development is funding WOCCU to carry out a three-year financial sector support program in Bolivia,” said Victor Corro, who heads WOCCU’s International Partnerships Program. “The program aims to improve the economic and social well-being of the rural population in underserved areas by connecting various microfinance institutions onto the credit union-owned share branching network and uniting them into an association to advocate for an effective regulatory environment in Bolivia,” he continued. Although located on two different continents, league officials and members of the Bolivian contingent realized that the issues facing their respective financial institutions are similar in many ways, but also different. Discussions surrounding deposit insurance revealed that Bolivian financial institutions are federally insured up to U.S. $5,000 and that they must ascertain a certain asset amount to garner federal insurance. One service of particular interest to the foreign contingent was shared branching and the technology needed to become a credit union service center. Both groups discussed capitalization levels, including what level is considered adequately capitalized and how that is monitored in their respective regions. Bolivian officials also shared how foreign federal legislation, such as the USA Patriot Act, has impacted their operations. “This was a unique opportunity to learn from each other and share best practices,” said league President Paul Mercer. “It was truly educational, and although there was a language barrier, we all speak the same language when it comes to serving our members in the best possible way.” Both sides agreed to continue the discussion in the future, possibly during a visit of Ohio leaders to Bolivia. During its visit to the U.S., the group also will meet with representatives from Western CU, Columbus, Ohio; CES CU, Mount Vernon, Ohio; and Corporate One FCU. Kelly Schermerhorn, CEO, CES CU, and Kurt Lykens of Corporate One previously visited Bolivia as part of a WOCCU delegation. The Bolivian group also will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors. Participating in the meeting from Bolivia were Fernando Prado, executive secretary of ASOFIN, which specializes in micro financing; Reynaldo Marconi, general manager of FINRURAL, an association of financial institutions serving rural populations; Marcelo Montero, executive secretary of ASOBAN, as association of private bankers in Bolivia; Vittorio Valdez Rocha, president of the ATC, a technical association representing 13 credit unions; Antonio Kierig, executive secretary of UNIVIV; and Rolando Salazar, project director of WOCCU-Bolivia, and Thom Belekevich, a WOCCU consultant.
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