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Ecuador CU delegation visits Colorado CUs
DENVER (10/20/09)--A delegation from CACPE PASTAZA credit union in Ecuador visited the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) and some of its member credit unions last week to examine how they continued to serve members in spite of economic challenges. “Our Ecuadorian friends visited Colorado at a particularly important and busy period for the U.S. credit union movement,” said John Dill,
Click to view larger image Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) representatives recently met in Colorado with visitors from CACPE PASTAZA, an Ecuadorian credit union. From left are: Pablo Santos, Tim Dore, Karina Espín, Melia Heimbuck, José Miguel Acuña, Janeth Carrillo, CUAC President/CEO John Dill, Pietra Dávila, Carmita Medina and Naila Espín. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
CUAC president/CEO. CUAC maintains a relationship with its Ecuadorian counterpart through World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “Our credit unions are recovering from the challenges posed by the U.S. economy's meltdown, and we're in the middle of major legislative fights over interchange fees and member business loans while struggling with member growth,” Dill said. “These are all good things for our South American partners to experience and understand.” The seven-person Ecuadorian delegation came to see the U.S. credit union movement, and CUAC’s role and products and services. The Ecuadorians studied CUAC’s financial education curriculum, its grassroots outreach and lobbying efforts, compliance products and other services provided to its members. Closer looks at the association's credit union service organization (CUSO) and its Credit Union Service Network also were on the agenda for the weeklong visit. “There are a few ideas we can already implement in Ecuador,” said Naila Espín, manager of CACPE PASTAZA's risk management department. “Technology is what we need to introduce very quickly.” The delegation visited several Denver credit unions, including Denver Community CU (DCCU), where the groups discussed ways in which DCCU can better attract and serve Latino members. The Ecuadorians also came to understand DCCU's successes to-date using “low-wealth” products, such as payday loans and financial education, to establish a strong Latino member base. At Premier Members FCU (PMFCU), Boulder, the delegation shared an overview of Ecuador's credit union system, including the country's strict regulatory climate and the challenges that small, unregulated credit unions pose to the system as a whole. PMFCU staff members shared their strategies for managing risk and contingency planning. At BCS Community CU, Wheat Ridge, discussions focused on how small credit unions can improve efficiency and thrive by utilizing the CUSO, something that enables the six-person staff of the credit union to provide services similar to those of institutions many times its size. “No one should doubt that credit unions from thousands of miles away have more in common with each other than we do with a local banker around the corner,” Dill added. “The long standing partnership between Colorado and Ecuador is proof positive that the ‘people helping people' philosophy knows no boundaries, no geography and no limits.“
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