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Canada Mexico CUs partner through WOCCU program
EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (10/22/09)--On Oct. 8, Canadian credit union history was made when Servus CU, Edmonton, Alberta, signed a formal partnership agreement with Caja Yanga CU, Veracruz, Mexico. The partnership, facilitated by the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program, is the first direct relationship involving an individual Canadian credit union.
New partners (from left) Eduardo Rojas, Caja Yanga; Garth Warner, Servus CU; and Margarito Saavedra, Caja Yanga; sign a partnership agreement, with World Council of Credit Unions’ Victor Miguel Corro and Servus CU's Penny Reeves in attendance. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“Partnering Servus with an international credit union has been my dream for some time,” said Penny Reeves, secretary of the WOCCU board of directors and director for the $9.6 billion Canadian credit union. The only other Canadian partnership exists between Central 1 CU of British Columbia, which operates similarly to a U.S. corporate credit union, and the Credit Union League of Hong Kong. The partnership between Servus and Caja Yanga, which has assets of $22 million, continues a relationship that began in March. Officials from the two partner credit unions met in Córdoba, Veracruz, to examine Caja Yanga's outreach to rural communities and the success of WOCCU's PATMIR II project funded by the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA). The project has helped Caja Yanga grow its membership and strengthen its role as a financial institution. Caja Yanga also is piloting WOCCU’s MatchSavings.org. The online program allows people worldwide to match the small savings of individual Caja Yanga members through a dedicated website. By helping Caja Yanga members save for housing, micro business, education and healthcare expenses, MatchSavings.org participants are helping the credit union's poorest members build savings habits as a first step toward overcoming poverty. During a partnership visit to Edmonton earlier this month, Caja Yanga officials identified new product development, governance and ATM implementation as areas in which the Mexican credit union would like assistance. Caja Yanga is currently working with Union Coop of Mexico, part of WOCCU’s for-profit subsidiary WOCCU Services Group, to launch a credit union-owned ATM network throughout Mexico. Caja Yanga needs assistance in developing sound policies and procedures to help better manage in-branch ATMs, an area in which Servus can help. “We can learn from Servus’ experience in rolling out new initiatives,” said Margarito Saavedra, Caja Yanga's general manager. “We will place special emphasis on enhancing our electronic delivery channels.” Governance also was discussed by the Caja Yanga delegation, which, in addition to Saavedra, included Eduardo Rojas, chairman, and Francisco Perez, marketing manager. Rojas met with Reeves and other members of Servus' board of directors, to discuss credit union growth and the board’s role in facilitating--rather than managing--the process. In return, Servus officials hope their credit union's experience with Caja Yanga will help their employees stay in touch with their cooperative roots and make a contribution to international credit union development. “No matter the size of our organizations, we share in our commitment to helping members,” said Garth Warner, president/CEO of Servus.
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