MINSK, Belarus (12/2/13)--Joe Thomas, president/CEO of Fairfax (Va.) County FCU, visited the Republican Association of Consumer Cooperatives for Mutual Financial Assistance (RACCMFA) of Belarus last month as part of a World Council of Credit Unions volunteer assignment to assist with membership growth strategies.
| World Council of Credit Unions volunteer Joe Thomas, left, president/CEO of Fairfax (Va.) County FCU, traveled to Belarus to discuss membership growth strategies with Republican Association of Consumer Cooperatives for Mutual Financial Assistance (RACCMFA) representatives, including Alena Kaliada, right, RACCMFA chair. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)|
RACCMFA, the Belarus credit union trade association and World Council affiliated member, has focused on increasing membership, assets and number of credit unions while operating in an environment with an emerging legislative and regulatory framework for credit unions. Belarus credit unions must also overcome inflationary pressures discouraging investment and savings.
During a five-day conference in Minsk, Belarus's largest city and capital, Thomas gave a presentation to Belarusian credit union managers on identification and development of financial products and services, building the credit union brand, and organizational and management strategies to achieve membership growth.
"The people I've met are some of the most dedicated and hospitable I've ever come across, with a real desire to help their countrymen and women improve their financial and social well-being through credit unions," Thomas said. "It feels as if the credit union movement is ready to become a much more critical part of the local economy."
Thomas, and Alena Kaliada, RACCMFA chair, also met with the National Bank of Belarus to discuss the supervision of the country's 20 credit unions, which were all established within the last 10 years and represent more than 3,000 members located primarily in urban areas.