Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, recently saw first-hand how Guatemala is building its credit union presence.
The visit to the country in November marked the first step in a partnership between the leagues and Guatemala, which was established as part of the World Council of Credit Union’s International Partnerships Program in 2009.
Dykstra visited the Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito, Guatemala’s national credit union trade association. She said California and Nevada credit unions and their counterparts in Guatemala face similar challenges as well as the same mission -- to serve their members.
“The Guatemalan credit union system is very new and challenged by an ever-changing and volatile political environment, but they never waiver from doing what is right and pursuing a path for continued success,” Dykstra said. “Their ability to leave their egos behind and develop a true collaborative system is inspiring.”
Implemented in 2008, Guatemala’s system comprises 25 credit unions that adopted a unified brand to help with public awareness, ease of transactions throughout the country, and membership growth, according to WOCCU. Membership has grown 35% over roughly 14 months.
Dykstra met with FENACOAC’s management staff, including CEO Oswaldo Oliva, where she talked about planning, strategy as well as the global financial crisis and the outlook of the credit union industry in the U.S.
She also met with the vice president of the Central Bank to discuss the importance of credit unions being regulated by the government. Guatemala’s system is self-regulated with FENACOAC acting as the monitoring agent. The Central Bank asked for specific help in getting case studies for countries in which credit unions are successfully regulated and where the risk is well managed.