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SHREVEPORT, La. – Three native Africans will have financial support to attend a management training session thanks to scholarships from the African-American Credit Union Coalition. As part of its mentoring outreach, the AACUC recently approved $2,700 in scholarships for the native Africans to attend the African Management Institute. The World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. sponsors the Institute, which will be held at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya June 6-18. Among those attending are Chris Ndzimandze, who is a training officer for the Apex Body for Savings and Credit Co-operatives in Swaziland. “Our country is still a developing country, so savings and credit societies have a huge role to play in empowering our people financially and otherwise,” Ndzimandze said. There are several African credit unions that are members of AACUC and this extension of financial support is among the Coalition’s ways of expanding its global reach, said Hubert Hoosman, AACUC funding chairman and president/CEO of $443 million Vantage Credit Union. “We hope to make this an annual program,” Hoosman said. “We’re happy to be able to make the connection and will continue to work with WOCCU on how we can do more.” The other two recipients of the AACUC scholarships have not been selected, Hoosman said. Ndzimandze said there are 40 savings and credit societies or SACCOs affiliated with the Apex Body and 20, which do not have an affiliation, are still in the developing state. His role is to help develop and monitor the SACCOs, orient their respective boards of directors and assist with strategic planning. “This course will be very useful to me in performing my duties in monitoring and developing SACCOs in Swaziland,” said Ndzimandze. “Our SACCOs have a problem in finance and investments, governance, understanding the PEARLS ratios for performance evaluation, preparing strategic plans and setting goals.” Last year, Kenya’s parliament worked to pass the SACCO Regulatory Act, which would maintain the standards outlined in WOCCU’s PEARLS monitoring System. PEARLS is an acronym for Protection, Effective Financial Structure, Asset Quality, Rates of Return and Costs, Liquidity and Signs of Growth. The proposed legislation came about partially as a result of several WOCCU-facilitated fact- finding visits by delegations of Kenyan SACCO leaders, NCUA and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. To enable the AACUC to extend its mentorship program, it often relies on donations from credit unions, state leagues and industry vendors. One AACUC member, $44 million Rockland Employees CU in Orangeburg, N.Y., has stood out in its support of the Coalition’s mentorship program by contributing $5,000 to its efforts last year, Hoosman said. Most of the money was used to travel to credit unions to provide assistance with record keeping, forward planning, loan underwriting and policy development. “These are the most critical areas that examiners focus on,” said Cynthia Vaughn, president of Rockland Employees CU. “Very often we see credit unions that don’t have the right expertise lose their charter or become insolvent. There are so many that could benefit from the help.” Indeed, Vaughn mentors to four New York credit unions that have less than $1 million in assets. Being able to provide financial resources to mentor is one of the goals of the Pete Crear Fund, launched in August 2004 by the AACUC and the National Credit Union Foundation. The fund is named for renowned 40-year industry veteran Pete Crear, who currently serves as executive vice president of external relations for CUNA. The fund is a donor-designated fund within NCUF’s Community Investment Fund (CIF). Credit unions can participate by making investments in their corporate CU and directing the investment be placed in the CIF. One-half of the investment income is returned to the investing CU and the remaining portion of the investment income is split between the coalition and the league or foundation of the state of original investment. It is used to help AACUC’s financial literacy, minority internships and small credit union development programs. The AACUC has set a $30 million goal for the fund, according to a letter on the Coalition’s Web site. The AACUC and the NCUF are looking at new ways to market the fund, said Hubert Hoosman AACUC funding chairperson and president/CEO of $443 million Vantage CU. “It really comes down to relationships and people working behind the scenes,” Hoosman said on the fund’s progress. -

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