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CaliforniaNevada leagues Dykstra visits Guatemala
ONTARIO, Calif. (12/1/11)--California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President/CEO Diana Dykstra traveled to Guatemala Nov. 10-11 as part of World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program.

Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, traveled to Guatemala last month as part of World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program. Here Dykstra visits the country's MICOOPE system office. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
During the trip Dykstra learned about Guatemala's credit union system, advocated for credit unions at the Central Bank and Superintendency of Banks, and conducted two learning sessions with the Guatemalan credit union trade association, Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito  (FENACOAC), and Guatemala credit union CEOs.

Victor Miguel Corro, vice president of WOCCU's Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, accompanied Dykstra.

Dykstra said California and Nevada credit unions and their counterparts in Guatemala face similar challenges as well as the same mission--to serve their members.

"The Guatemalan credit union system is very new and challenged by an ever-changing and volatile political environment, but credit unions never waiver from doing what is right and pursuing a path for continued success," she said. "Their ability to leave their egos behind and develop a true collaborative system is inspiring."

Guatemala's MICOOPE system--implemented in 2008--comprises 25 credit unions that adopted a unified brand to help with public awareness, ease of transactions throughout the country and growing credit union membership. Membership grew by 35% in about 14 months. The campaign included many forms of media, but most important, asked every employee in the system to bring in 10 new members.

On the first day of the trip, Dykstra met with FENACOAC's management staff, including CEO Oswaldo Oliva. She talked about planning, strategy and the global financial crisis and the outlook of the credit union industry in the U.S. She also met with the vice president of the Central Bank to discuss the importance of credit unions being regulated by the government.

The MICOOPE system is essentially self-regulated, with FENACOAC acting as the monitoring agent.  The Central Bank asked for help in getting case studies for countries in which credit unions are successfully regulated and where the risk is well managed.

On the second day, Dykstra addressed the CEOs of MICOOPE credit unions, speaking on innovation in financial services, staff development and retention, risk management, cooperative principles, and how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. She visited the Superintendency of Banks again to discuss the importance of regulating and examining credit unions.

The trip provided a plan on how the two groups will move forward to benefit both systems, according to Dykstra.

"The partnership is important to both parties as we learn and advance our causes," she said. "Hopefully we will see more partnerships around the world that will only cause the world credit union system to be more visible."
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