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Virginia league Estonian co-ops sign as partners
LYNCHBURG, Va. (4/25/08)--The Virginia Credit Union League (VCUL) signed a partnership agreement with the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives (EUCC) April 11 to provide support and expertise to the Baltic country’s growing cooperative movement.
The Virginia Credit Union League has entered into an international partnership with credit cooperatives in Estonia. Seated, from left are: league president Rick Pillow, World Council of Credit Unions International Partnerships manager Victor Corro, and Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives executive director Andrus Ristkok; and standing, Northwest FCU Senior Vice President of External Affairs Juri Valdov, who will help coordinate the partnership efforts of Virginia's credit unions. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
“Our hope is that we can have a lasting impact on the Estonian movement by helping its cooperatives better prepare for both the challenges and opportunities before them,” said Rick Pillow, VCUL president. The Estonian credit union movement is small and is faced with a market dominated by Scandinavian banks. The EUCC--Estonia’s version of a credit union league--consists of 11 credit unions and 2,693 members. The credit unions have a 0% delinquency because they operate like savings clubs and in some cases, make only 100% share-secured loans. They account for less than 1% of the country’s financial services market, but want to play a larger role, said Victor Miguel Corro, World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships manager. Virginia credit unions already have experience with the Estonian credit union movement because Juri Valdov, former president and now senior vice president of external affairs for Northwest FCU, Herndon, Va., visited Estonia in August 2007. The Estonian credit union movement has tremendous growth opportunities, Valdov said. The nation’s free-market economy is being rebuilt, and the vast majority of its citizens have increasing economic opportunities and higher standards of living. “Financial cooperatives are not new to Estonia,” Valdov said. “They existed years before the Soviet occupation and now are attempting a comeback. “I view our effort as an attempt to revitalize credit cooperatives in a nation that has a proud cooperative history,” he added. The partnership brings the total number of WOCCU international partnerships between U.S. credit union leagues or Canadian credit union centrals with credit union movements in development countries to 28.
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