DUBLIN, Ireland -- After a year on the job, World Council of Credit Union President Pete Crear feels he's "getting the hang" of the job as he told the 1,850 attendees at the opening general session of WOCCU's 2006 World CU Conference.
He reeled off the statistics of what he called a movement that is alive and well with its 157 million members worldwide. He spoke with pride on how WOCCU helped governments to write strong credit union legislation, the growing WOCCU connections in countries like China, Iran and India as well as the 12 projects WOCCU oversees in 11 countries.
Then he flashed the photo of a multi-level brick building onto the screen and called it "Remittance House." Without remittances sent over IRNET, the WOCCU remittance network that is allowing migrants to send money "home" that house couldn't have been built, he said. The house is just one example of the benefits of a system that Crear says raises the income of migrant families receiving remittances by an average of $16 a day, a major amount to people in third-world and developing countries.
Crear then showed a short film presentation about Bolivia where a woman talked about how her farm had grown from a small chicken farm to a farm with 9,000 birds, and how her pig farming was increasing. Face after face appeared, each representing how their lives were improved through credit unions. That credit unions in Bolivia were now linked, meaning that a person no longer needed to travel to do some transactions. Although to people in developed countries, the small steps might seem insignificant, but to those involved it meant that their lives were lived with greater dignity that only financial choices can bring. The faces were hopeful and smiling. Equally hopeful were not the faces, but the burka-covered women photographed at a WOCCU-project in Afghanistan. For the first time in decades, women not only had some control over their finances, they were managing a credit union. Crear in his closing encouraged international partnerships between credit unions of different countries. He said Mexico was an example. In 50 years they had taken in about 500,000 members, but in 2001 through development projects and partnerships credit union memberships have been growing by 12,000 a month.