The Global Credit Union Podcast
By World Council of Credit Unions
The Global Credit Union PodcastMay 17, 2023
Episode 25: How 3 Years of Success Led to an Extension of the USAID/WOCCU Economic Inclusion Project
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in May 2023 extended the flagship project of its Venezuela Regional Response Program through May 2026, awarding $14 million to World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to continue implementation of the Economic Inclusion Project (EIP) in Peru and Ecuador on a much larger scale.
Abby Cohen, WOCCU Program Manager for Latin America, and Oscar Guzman, Chief of Party for the Economic Inclusion Project, join the podcast to discuss EIP's successful first phase, and what they hope to add as new objectives in phase two of the Project.
Launched in June 2020, the first phase of the Economic Inclusion Project helped Venezuelan migrants and vulnerable local residents in Lima, Peru, and Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, achieve socioeconomic security by gaining greater access to financial products and services, entrepreneurship and employment programs, and services focused on the prevention of gender-based violence.
Those objectives will continue to be a focus over the next three years, but phase two of EIP will also prioritize:More programs and strategies that allow for the inclusion of youth and LGBTQI+ communities. Capacity-building for credit unions and other local organizations. Climate change adaptation and mitigation through the promotion of green entrepreneurial businesses, jobs and financial products.
You can read more about the Economic Inclusion Project here.
Episode 24: A Deep Dive into Climate Resilience and Sustainable Finance
We take a deep dive into World Council of Credit Unions’ strategic focus on climate resilience and sustainable finance this month.
We start at Sicredi Pioneira, a credit union based in Nova Petropolis, Brazil that is leading the way on solar energy. You’ll hear all about how they are helping members access financing for solar projects, and how they are leading by example as well—powering many of their own credit unions with 100 percent clean energy from the sun.
World Council wants to help more credit unions get to where Sicredi Pioneira is today. Thom Belekevich, World Council Director of Member Services, shares more on our strategy to promote climate resilience and sustainable finance across the global credit union movement.
Episode 23: How WOCCU is Working for Women
World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. And since this is also Women’s History Month, WOCCU is focusing this episode on the ways our organization helps women in the global credit union community through our programs and projects, and how we’re doing in terms of gender equality within our own organization.
We’ll hear from a variety of voices, including the women who lead WOCCU, a woman who has made strides to become the leader she is today because of the Global Women’s Leadership Network, the women who have assisted on WOCCU international projects focused on women’s initiatives, and even from one of the men in our organization who has led on women’s issues.
Episode 22: One Year of War and the Resilience of Ukrainian Credit Unions
With February 2023 marking the somber one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we look back on how several projects and entities have worked with Ukrainian credit unions to keep them resilient and open to members.
That includes the World Council of Credit Unions/USAID Credit for Agriculture Producers' (CAP) Project, which works with partner credit unions to ensure their member farmers have loans, so they can continue producing food during the war. Ivan Vyshnevskiy, a Ukrainian citizen who serves as Deputy Chief of Party for the CAP Project, talks about how project staff have not only helped those credit unions continue to lend, but to even help agricultural lending outperform every other credit union loan sector since the war began.
Plus, Mike Reuter, Executive Director of Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU), discusses the response from credit union leaders around the world who have donated nearly $2 million to WFCU's Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund. More than $600,000 from that fund has already been sent to Ukraine to help credit unions maintain operations and to provide needed support to the farmers themselves.
Finally, Anatoli Murha, Senior Vice President of Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union and a member of the Ukrainian-American Credit Union Association, discusses the massive outpouring of financial support from the Ukrainian-American credit union sector, and the difference that has made in Ukraine.
Episode 21: Nominations Open for the Digital Growth and Distinguished Service Awards
2023 nominations are now open for a pair of World Council of Credit Unions’ annual awards. The Digital Growth Award recognizes one or more member credit union associations or member credit unions for implementing digital solutions that promote financial inclusion, innovation and scalability.
Diana Cazacu, a financial inclusion and digitalization expert who will serve as a Digital Growth Award judge for the second straight year, explains some of the things she and the other judges will be looking for when they review nominations this spring.
Nominations are also open for the Distinguished Service Award, which World Council has handed out since 1986 to recognize individuals or institutions for outstanding contributions to credit union development outside their home country. World Council Executive Communications Manager Laura Mihm discusses the Distinguished Service Award nomination process and why it is so unique in the credit union industry.
Recipients of both awards will receive complimentary registration to the 2023 World Credit Union Conference in Vancouver, Canada, where the respective awards will be presented.
Episode 20: How WOCCU Responded to a Year of Multiple Crises and Built a Resilient Strategy for 2023
After an optimistic start to the year, the global credit union movement was hit with multiple crises, including Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and soaring inflation worldwide. In this final episode of 2022, we look back at how World Council of Credit Unions helped its members navigate those pressures, while still offering education and networking events and managing to boost the livelihoods of vulnerable populations in Ukraine and elsewhere. We also look ahead to 2023 with plans based on a new strategy focused on growing credit union digitalization, climate and sustainability solutions and building resilient livelihoods.
Episode 19: How Canadian Credit Unions Are Embracing Bold Initiatives
We’re focusing on Canada this month through interviews with:
· Jeff Guthrie, President and CEO of the Canadian Credit Union Association(CCUA) and the newest member of World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Board of Directors.
· Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot, Manager, Financial Access Programs, Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU) in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Jeff Guthrie joins the podcast to discuss both of his roles, which are new in 2022, and how he hopes to bring his expertise in payments to help the global credit union movement. He also discusses CCUA co-hosting the 2023 World Credit Union Conference in his hometown of Vancouver next July.
Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot has one of the coolest and perhaps most impactful jobs in our entire movement. She discusses her role at ACU, which focuses on the financial inclusion of indigenous, migrant and other underserved populations—and why she hopes her interview will inspire more credit unions to add positions like hers.
Episode 18: A Deep Dive into WOCCU's 2021 Statistical Report
Despite year-to-year growth in overall membership and total assets for the global credit union movement, World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) 2021 Statistical Report shows major gaps in key product and service offerings have resulted in different priorities and risk concerns for credit unions in different parts of the world.
As of December 31, 2021, there were a total of 393,871,631 members of 87,914 credit unions worth $3.48 trillion in assets across 118 countries.
Along with providing statistics on members, assets, savings and loans, the 2021 Statistical Report also features first-time data sets on credit union:Strategic priorities. Risk Concerns. Access to various products and services. Taxation.
On Episode 18 of the Global Credit Union Podcast, we take a deep dive into the data with Steven Rick, Chief Economist for CUNA Mutual Group, and Dalia Mehiar, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Program Manager for World Council. We discuss some the regional differences and disparities, trends and surprises that come out of all those numbers.
Episode 17: WOCCU Board Chair Diana Dykstra
This month’s featured guest is Diana Dykstra, who was just named Chair of World Council of Credit Unions’ Board of Directors in July. A six-year veteran of the WOCCU Board, Dykstra has more than 40 years of experience in leading top organizations in the financial services industry.
She is currently the President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, and previously served as President and CEO of San Francisco Fire Credit Union and Coasthills Federal Credit Union. During her tenure as Senior Vice President at Golden 1 Credit Union, Diana led her team to develop the prototype of the now successful Credit Union Direct Lending—more commonly known CU Direct.
She joins the Podcast to talk about what leadership means to her, why it is important that World Council now has two women at the top of the organization and how WOCCU can lead the global credit union movement in some key strategic areas.
Episode 16: Sharing Stories of Empowerment on International Credit Union Day
The theme for International Credit Union Day 2022 is "Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union."
World Council of Credit Unions is looking forward to celebrating that theme on Thursday, October 20. World Council and Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions are leading the way in asking for credit unions to share their member empowerment stories on ICU Day, while Worldwide Foundation Executive Director Mike Reuter is also leading an Empower Campaign to raise $500,000 the global credit union movement. He joins WOCCU DIrector of Communications Greg Neumann on this episode to discuss that. If you want to learn more about the Empower Campaign, you can email email@example.com.
Plus, we share an example of one such empowerment story from Ukraine, where a credit union association empowered an employee of one of its member credit unions to improve her safety and financial future. That employee, Oksana Hovorushchenko shares her personal story with us.
To learn more about International Credit Union Day 2022, visit woccu.org/icuday.
Episode 15: Can Credit Unions Provide Solutions to Ease Global Food Insecurity?
Episode 15 of the Global Credit Union Podcast examines the global food security crisis caused by COVID-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and climate change and looks at whether credit unions can provide more solutions to help local food producers.
Jacob Kirkegaard, nonresident senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and resident senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, joins the program to discuss the current issues with the globalization of our food supply.
Arthur Faviero, structural operations and sustainable finance specialist with Sicredi, the largest credit union system in Brazil, also joins the program to talk about the innovative agribusiness solutions they have created and whether they can serve as a model for credit unions worldwide. If you're interested in learning more about Sicredi's innovative agribusiness solutions, you can email Arthur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode 14: Forging a Path for Migrants Through the Economic Inclusion Project with Oscar Guzman
Oscar Guzman, Chief of Party for World Council of Credit Unions’ Economic Inclusion Project (EIP), discusses how the USAID-funded activity in Peru and Ecuador connects Venezuelan migrants and low-income local residents to financial services, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and also works on the prevention of gender-based violence. At the two-year mark, the Economic Inclusion Project has had a tremendous impact in South America and provides some lessons on how to assist migrant and refugee populations around the world.
Episode 13: ABCUL CEO Robert Kelly on Glasgow Hosting the 2022 World Credit Union Conference
Robert Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) is our guest for Episode 13 of the Global Credit Union Podcast.
ABCUL, World Council’s direct member credit union association in the United Kingdom, is co-hosting the 2022 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland with WOCCU from July 17-20. Along with being an expert on the UK credit union movement, Robert is also a Glasgow native. He talks about all the great things that await you in Scotland—both at the conference and outside of it. And if you’re still thinking about joining us in Glasgow this July – Robert will have some great reasons as to why you should register today.
You can register for the 2022 World Credit Union Conference, and find a list of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, hotels, day tours and more, by visiting https://wcuc.org.
Episode 12: 36 Hours in Rzeszow
The CAP Project is a USAID-funded activity focused on strengthening Ukraine’s credit unions and expanding access to agricultural lending. McCarter LaBorde first met with the CEO of a CAP partner credit union in western Ukraine, who we are not identifying out of concern for his safety. But the CEO spent hours discussing the current challenges facing credit unions that belong to the All-Ukrainian Credit Union Association, a WOCCU associate member member organization. He also shared details on the ways credit unions are assisting displaced credit union members from eastern Ukraine, and told us what credit unions need now, and what he believes they will need the international credit union movement to help them with in the long term.
McCarter LaBorde also met with representatives from USAID's Ukraine Mission and members of the United Nation's Office for Coordinated Humanitarian Assistance (UN OCHA) to discuss future ways WOCCU could help improve the situation on the ground in Ukraine through our member credit unions.
Episode 11: The Impact of the Russian Invasion on Ukrainian Credit Unions
Our guest on this edition of the Global Credit Union Podcast is “Aleksandr.” A liaison to the Ukrainian credit union movement, Aleksandr talks about the dire circumstances facing both the people of Ukraine and its credit unions. Aleksandr is not his real name. We chose to hide his identity for his safety, but the stories he shares about the devastating impacts of the Russian invasion of his country are very real.
Aleksandr discusses what life is like for credit union employees and their members in Russian-occupied areas of the country, where there is a lack of food, water, communications, electricity and heat. He also talks about what the country’s credit union associations and regulators are doing to make it easier for those credit unions that are still operational, and what the country might need to get all their credit unions back up and running once this conflict is over.
If you want to help the people of Ukraine in the short term—and Ukrainian credit unions and their members in the long-term—you can do that by making a donation to Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions’ Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund. Click here to donate.
To learn more about how credit unions in Ukraine are overcoming the challenges they face and how the global credit union movement is working to assist them, follow updates on World Council’s Ukrainian Crisis Response blog.
Episode 10: A Preview of the 2022 World Credit Union Conference
We preview the conference set for July 17-20 in Glasgow, Scotland on Episode 10 of the Global Credit Union Podcast.
Belinda Parmar, founder and CEO of The Empathy Business is the featured guest. She will address attendees at the conference on why it is important for credit unions to embrace an empathic style of leadership. Her presentation at WCUC is sponsored by PSCU.
World Council of Credit Unions’ Event Marketing and Communications Manager Kadie Hochmuth also joins the show to preview the other keynote speakers and breakout session topics to be featured at WCUC 2022.
If you have yet to register for the 2022 World Credit Union Conference, you can do that right now at wcuc.org. You can also find more information there about the conference schedule, hotels, day tours and other activities.
Episode Nine: The 2022 Global Regulatory Update
Sustainable finance is one of the fastest growing areas of concerns for regulators and credit unions, which is why it is the focus of World Council of Credit Unions’ 2022 Global Regulatory Update for Credit Unions and Financial Cooperatives.
World Council Assistant General Counsel of International Advocacy Panya Monford and World Council Senior Vice President of International Advocacy and General Counsel Andy Price join Greg Neumann to discuss that and the other topics covered in their 2022 Global Regulatory Update. That includes how their efforts paved the way for credit unions to expect regulations that are more favorable to expanding financial inclusion, and how digitalization, cybersecurity and cryptocurrency will be more closely scrutinized by regulators in the months ahead.
Episode Eight: How a Peruvian Fintech is Digitizing Credit Unions in Just 30 Days
Facundo Turconi, owner and CEO of Solven, a South American fintech, is featured on Episode Eight to discuss how his firm has helped credit unions in Peru offer digital credit options to their members in less than two months through World Council of Credit Unions’ Economic Inclusion Project. Funded by USAID, the Economic Inclusion Project seeks to expand financial inclusion to Venezuelan migrants and low-income local residents in Peru and Ecuador.
Facundo also talks about the obstacles preventing many credit unions in Latin America from offering digital services and why many of those roadblocks are common ones for credit unions throughout the world.
If you want to learn more about the work Solven is doing with the Economic Inclusion Project in Peru, you can read about our joint efforts on World Council’s Challenge 2025 blog.
Episode Seven: How GWLN and WYCUP Are Leveling the Playing Field for Women and Youth
Results of a first-time demographic survey of World Council of Credit Unions' member credit union associations showed women trail far behind men when it comes to credit union membership and leadership. The responses, from 34 credit union associations on five continents, also showed the average credit union member is far older than the average person in the general population.
But two World Council and Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions' programs are actively trying to to reverse those trends. In this episode of the Global Credit Union Podcast, Host Greg Neumann talks with:
- Mary Rose Gob, Knowledge Resource Center Head/Senior HR Advisor for the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO-Philippines) and a member of the Global Women's Leadership Network (GWLN), and
- Vinicius Mattia, Sicredi (Brazil) Youth Committee member and a member of the World Council Young Credit Union Professionals (WYCUP) program.
Gob gives her insights on the issues holding back more women from becoming credit union members and preventing women working in credit unions from ascending to leadership roles. She also discusses the role GWLN plays in reducing the inequities in both areas.
Mattia talks about the obstacles credit unions must overcome to appeal to more young consumers and reduce the age of the average member. He talks about why WYCUP can be a powerful tool credit unions can tap to reach out to more young people worldwide.
You can learn more about WYCUP here.
You can learn more about the Global Women's Leadership Network here.
To find the report on Sicredi's Youth Committees referenced by Vinicius in this episode, click here.
And to find the demographics survey data discussed in this episode of the podcast, click here and go to page six of the 2020 Statistical Report.
Episode Six: WOCCU President and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde
New World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) President and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde is the featured guest. Elissa took over her new leadership role in August 2021, bringing more than 20 years of experience leading organizations in delivering financial services to underserved communities across the globe.
For the previous 12 years, Ms. LaBorde served as Chief Executive Officer of Vitas Group, a for-profit holding company she established under Global Communities, an international development and humanitarian aid organization that operates in 27 countries. Ms. LaBorde also served for 16 years as Global Communities’ Vice President of Development Finance, overseeing the non-profit organization’s strategy, investment and thought leadership in financial inclusion.
Greg Neumann talks to her about why she felt the time was right for a new challenge and why she thinks credit unions offer a huge opportunity to financial inclusion around the world through further digitization.
Episode Five: Building Global Bridges with Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions' Executive Director Mike Reuter
As the charitable and engagement arm of World Council of Credit Unions, the Worldwide Foundation started Global Bridges to allow credit unions to select and customize thematic content that gives a global context to current credit union challenges through interactive webinars, peer-to-peer engagements between credit unions from around the world, and conferences that add value to existing education and training programs.
Mike Reuter discusses the creation of Global Bridges, some of the experiences credit unions are benefiting from due to the program, and how he sees the initiative growing as it moves forward.
Episode Four: Gender Lens Investing and Credit Union Development
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has gained significant interest and momentum in the credit union industry over the past few years. Episode Four of the Global Credit Union Podcast delves into a topic related to DEI as we look at the role of gender in credit union development.
Funded by USAID INVEST, World Council of Credit Unions’ Gender Lens Investment for Credit Unions Activity in Senegal is piloting a gender lens investment methodology for credit unions to connect women with needed capital. As community-centered financial cooperatives, credit unions are ideally positioned to deliver blended capital solutions that increase investment in women-led businesses. The pilot is being implemented through UM-PAMECAS, the national credit union association for Senegal.
Sophie Romana serves as the lead gender specialist and SME finance consultant on the project. Diattou Coulibaly serves as the activity’s local consultant and inclusive finance expert. Both join Greg Neumann to talk about the obstacles facing women when it comes to obtaining loans and other types of financial products in the developing world; why it is important those obstacles be removed; and how the goal of their work is to make it easier for women to obtain credit to build and grow businesses. They also discuss how they are working with women working in the pilot credit unions to create a Global Women's Leadership Network Sister Society chapter.
Episode Three: WOCCU Senior VP of International Advocacy Andrew Price
If you work in compliance at a credit union or you advocate on behalf of credit unions at any level of government, you know that standard setters and regulators never sleep.
And this summer seems to be even busier than usual for the professionals with World Council of Credit Unions’ International Advocacy team, as the G20 discusses the importance of financial inclusion and other international standard setters focus on the digital operational resilience of financial institutions.
So, what does all that mean for credit unions? Andrew Price, World Council Senior Vice President of International Advocacy, joins Host Greg Neumann this month to talk about why those issues are of particular concern for WOCCU—and how he’s working with our members to make sure the credit unions we represent are treated proportionally on those issues. We also discuss:the issues credit unions still face due to COVID-19. what’s new with the regulation of payments. what is sustainable finance and how is it changing the landscape of financial services?
You can learn more about the work of Andrew Price and our International Advocacy team does by reading their Advocate blog at advocate.woccu.org and The Telegraph monthly newsletter at www.woccu.org/telegraph.
Episode Two: 2021 World Credit Union Conference Preview
We talk with Kadie Hochmuth, World Council's Event Marketing and Communications Manager, and Kassandra Schroeder, World Council's Virtual Engagement and Special Events Manager, about why you won't want to miss what they have planned for WCUC 2021.
To learn more about the conference and to register, visit wcuc.org/ - and be sure to tag the conference on social media with #wcuc2021
Episode One: World Council of Credit Unions' President and CEO Brian Branch
We started this podcast to provide the international credit union community with an in-depth look at some of the interesting and important stories we have to tell here at WOCCU, particularly in the areas of International Advocacy, International Projects, Education and Networking, and Digital Transformation. But we will also be telling your stories about the work credit unions across the world are doing on behalf of their members.
We start by looking back on the tenure of our soon-to-be outgoing President and CEO Brian Branch. He will be retiring in July 2021, after more than 30 years with WOCCU – the last 10 as the leader of our organization. He talks about starting his work at WOCCU during the early 1990s when civil wars were raging in Central America and communism was ending in Eastern Europe - and ending it during a pandemic that is causing global upheaval. During those crises and all the ones in between, Branch explains how credit unions have been there for their members - and how World Council of Credit Unions has continued to find new ways to help them strengthen, innovate and grow.