STANLEY, Falkland Islands (5/1/13)--Dwayne Naylor, chief operating officer of Local Government CU in Raleigh, N.C., last month volunteered on behalf of the World Council of Credit Unions to help establish a sustainable credit union framework in the Falkland Islands.
Michael Betts, left, Falkland Islands Development Corp. acting infrastructure development manager, explored credit union development for the islands with Dwayne Naylor, right, chief operating officer of Local Government CU, Raleigh, N.C., during Naylor's visit there in April. Naylor was on assignment for the World Council of Credit Unions. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
One bank branch operates on the Falkland Islands, located off southeastern coast of South America. Residents find it difficult to access credit. The government established the Falkland Islands Development Corp. to provide financing to island businesses that have been refused bank financing.
Islanders also want to share ownership of a financial institution with shareholders holding equal voting rights, said WOCCU. Residents had heard positive things about North American credit unions and requested WOCCU assistance to introduce credit unions in the Falkland Islands.
Naylor reviewed the necessary legislative framework and explained the credit union model to interested citizens and local authorities. He assessed local infrastructure, information systems and professional staff capacity and requirements to provide savings, consumer lending, transaction services, remittances, international transfer services and business lending.
Despite keen local interest, the Falkland Islands' small population makes credit union sustainability a challenge, said WOCCU. With 2,300 working-age islanders, Naylor and Development Corp. staff considered whether a credit union could be sustainable without achieving scale.
"The Falklands' economy is changing rapidly," Naylor said. "Increased access to a credit union will be in the community's interest to grow."
The team continues to review alternative information communication technology strategies for cloud-based, back-office processing and mobile services on the island.
"We knew this would be a challenge from the start when the Development Corp. approached us, but we remain optimistic that in today's world, credit unions can provide an empowering solution for this community as well," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO.