In 1844, a small group of weavers from Rochdale, England created the blueprint for how their newly-formed cooperative would operate and serve the local community. These values, known as the Seven Cooperative Principles, serve as the operating guidebook for credit unions and cooperatives throughout the world. This blog was created to honor that legacy and to showcase the everyday efforts of credit unions in the Carolinas that embody the cooperative mission and purpose.
Posted By Jeff Hardin,
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 03, 2014
Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions work together to improve services to members and build sustainable communities.
(Editor's note: in 2012, Ashley Ruffin of Local Government FCU and Jeff Hardin of the CCUL traveled to Mexico with a World Council representative. As part of their trip, they visited a Semilla Cooperativa in the state of Veracruz. You can read their story by clicking here, and view pictures from the Semilla Cooperativa by clicking here.)
Written by Matt Garcia, project director, World Council of Credit Unions.
Matt Garcia serves as the Project Director for World Council's USDA project in Ethiopia and the Cooperative Development Project funded by USAID in Mexico, Guatemala, and Kenya. Garcia has worked with World Council for the past seven years in a project management role.
Imagine living in a world where you have no access to a loan or a secure place to keep your savings. The nearest financial institution is 10 to 25 miles away, and the banks will not help because you do not have any credit history or enough assets to be considered worth the expense of rural finance.
Beginning in 2004, World Council sought to address this very issue in rural Mexico. Through funding from the Mexican government and national development banks, World Council initiated a technical assistance program to help credit unions improve performance and empower rural communities.
The cost of building a credit union branch office is a very expensive endeavor, especially for sparse rural populations in marginalized areas of the country. World Council created a model that allows credit unions to expand financial services to these areas through more affordable investments in personnel and technology.
This Semilla Cooperativa [cooperative seed] outreach methodology literally transports the knowledge and access of financial services into rural areas previously inaccessible due to high costs, high risks and minimal return. The model has gone through a rapid evolution over the course of three rounds of projects in Mexico.
The first phase of development was relatively rudimentary. Credit union field officers traveled by motorcycle to remote communities to provide financial education to small groups, disburse small loans, collect payments and savings deposits and provide handwritten receipts. The second phase transferred the methodology to the 21st century. World Council created a value chain of technological devices to further minimize costs—ATMs were implemented in population dense areas, point of sale (POS) devices were placed in local village stores to increase access and reduce risk of theft for credit union representatives, and credit union field officers used personal digital assistants (PDAs) in the most rural areas of the country. The current third phase incorporates mobile banking in addition to the other technological advances.
The development of Semilla Cooperativa has literally transformed the lives of Mexico’s rural poor by providing 24-hour financial access to a population that previously had none at all. Over the course of the three projects, World Council has brought over 1,375,237 members to the country’s credit union system.
In exchange, Mexican credit unions have shared their technical knowledge with the U.S. through World Council’s International Partnerships Program. The most recent partnership established was between Federación Alianza and Mountain West Credit Union Association in 2012.
At a Semilla Cooperativa session in rural Mexico, credit union field officers collect savings from members using PDAs and provide receipts with mobile printers. Watch a video on World Council rural finance initiatives like Semilla Cooperativa here.
Posted By Jeff Hardin,
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Principle Three: Member economic participation. The more members use the credit union, the more both the members and the cooperative benefit.
Coastal Federal Credit Union has been named a top credit union in the Southeast in NerdWallet's Consumer Banking Index, recognizing Coastal's consumer-friendly products and services. The assessment is based on seven criteria established by NerdWallet, a consumer-oriented personal finance website.
“NerdWallet's mission is to identify financial institutions that serve the best interests of everyday consumers, and Coastal Federal Credit Union is a perfect example of one. Their simple, low-fee checking accounts and variety of free, simple access options makes Coastal a top credit union,” said NerdWallet Analyst John Gower.
NerdWallet’s Consumer Banking Index assesses banks and credit unions on free checking, high-yield savings, free online bill pay, ATM access, branch access, mobile access, and customer service. These criteria were selected by a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults as key considerations when choosing a financial institution. Spring 2014 marks second semi-annual release of this index and includes 150 of the nation’s largest banks and credit unions. Receiving high marks for each category indicates Coastal’s superior value to consumers.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by an organization like NerdWallet, which is known for providing unbiased, consumer-focused financial guidance to help their users prosper,” said Coastal FCU Senior Marketing Analyst and Spokesman Joe Mecca. “We certainly share those values, which are reflected in the products and services we provide.”
Posted By Jeff Hardin,
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Principle Seven: Concern for Community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.
Seven staff members at Georgetown Kraft Credit Union accepted the cold water challenge, raising $210 for Victory Junction Gang in the process.
With the weather heating up in South Carolina's Low Country, employees and members of Georgetown Kraft Credit Union (GKCU) found a nifty way to beat the heat and raise funds for a great cause! Early in June, employees at the GKCU Georgetown branch accepted a “cold water challenge” from co-workers at the nearby Pawleys Island office.
The cold water challenge was a Facebook donation experiment that went viral in the community. If someone did not accept the challenge they had to donate money to a charity chosen by the person who challenged them. If they did accept the challenge, they paid towards the charity of their choice.
"We had seven people accept the challenge, and along with other gifts and a matching donation from the credit union, we raised $210 for Victory Junction," shared Nikki Ewing, GKCU's marketing director. Ewing was one of the staff members who had a cooler filled with chilled water poured over her head to fulfill the challenge.
"People helping people is the credit union philosophy, one that GKCU puts into action both with our members and outside our offices in the communities we serve," Ewing noted in a donation letter to the camp in Randleman, NC. "We have been a long time supporter of Victory Junction Gang Camp and we are so happy to be able to make this donation on behalf of all the kids and families you help every day," she concluded.
Posted By Jeff Hardin,
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Principle Five:Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide financial education to their members as well as the communities they serve.
Credit Union recently held a "Kid’s Outdoor Movie Night” to culminate
its National Credit Union Youth Week celebration. The event was held on April
25th at the Candler, NC branch, located at 1453 Sand Hill Road, with
lots of pizza, popcorn, candy and soda for everyone.
This year’s Youth Week theme was Catch the $ave Wave™, in
hopes of harnessing the excitement for beaches, sand and surfing and to show
younger members how they can benefit from visiting — and saving at — their
credit union. The credit union also got their members involved by asking them to
go online and vote for their choice of four movies that fit the week’s theme
and the movie "Finding Nemo” received the most votes. This event was open to
credit union members and non-members alike.
businesses were also involved and supported by agreeing to sponsor certain
elements of the event. These businesses included Coca-Cola of Asheville, Fletcher
Car Care, Clean Streak Inc. of Mills River and Sam’s Club of Hendersonville. Biltmore
Baptist Church provided an inflatable bounce house as well as the audio / video
equipment and local radio station, 99.9 KISS Country, was on site doing a live
remote during the two hours leading up to movie time.
"We want our community to know that kids are
important to us and this is a fun way to show it,” said Chris Angel, Business
Development Director. "Our Youth Financial Education tools are a great way to
engage kids, including my two daughters, in realizing the importance of savings
also encouraged children to print out and color their choice of two coloring
pages that were returned to their local branch for display. Our branches were
decorated with a fun, beach theme throughout April and each one gave away
several fun prizes, including several cash prizes valued at up to $50.
Allegacy in 2011, the Center for Smart Financial Choices provides financial
education to help people make healthy choices in dealing with money. A holistic
viewpoint is encouraged through the Center’s hands-on approach which
incorporates the individual’s strengths, knowledge, values and goals.
CUaware group learned about the non-profit agency’s youth financial education
programs, the Center offers educational opportunities covering every aspect of
a person’s life cycle. Betty Ann Falkner, who oversees the programs and
outreach of the center, directed the lunch & learn event with the 20 credit
union staff in attendance.
our first lunch and learn event and we were thrilled to hear about the programs
of the center,” shared Jessica Dillon (Piedmont Advantage CU) of the
CUaware-Triad group. "The Center invites credit unions to partner with them to
help provide financial education to the community. We had a few people sign up
to volunteer at upcoming Center events, so there was obviously a lot of
excitement about the message.”
attendees to volunteer with the Center, and then engaged the group in a short
youth financial education exercise. "We appreciated this opportunity to spread
the word about the Center’s programs, goals and mission,” said Falkner. "The
group had a little fun at the end with the Adult
for A Day experiential learning program we do with middle and high school
students as well.”
Adult for A Day puts students in the place of
their parents, with each participant given a job, income level and credit
score. They must then navigate through a series of life choices in key areas of
budgeting in adult life, including housing, transportation, and utilities.
to experiential learning exercises like Adult
for A Day, the Center offers workshops and other classes designed to help
people make better choices about money. The Center was envisioned by retired
Allegacy FCU CEO Ike Keener as a community resource and touch point for
enhanced cooperation among credit unions in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
programs are available for members and non-members of credit unions to attend.
For more information about the Center for Smart Financial Choices, please go
to their web site.
You may also keep up with the Center’s activities by liking its Facebook page.