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MADISON, Wis. – For the past three years, the World Council of Credit Unions has been working with Freedom From Hunger on a project that involves offering savings and credit education programs to credit unions in Ecuador. The organization estimates more than 11,500 women are getting their first opportunity to open savings accounts and apply for loans by participating in solidarity savings and loan groups in Ecuador through four local credit unions. In conjunction with WOCCU’s Board meetings in Quito, Ecuador, board members had the opportunity to witness the impact of WOCCU’s activities on the lives of Ecuadorians. The WOCCU Board members participated in a graduation ceremony in the town of Latacunga where they observed women graduating from being members of a solidarity group with membership in credit unions to direct individual members of the CU. According to WOCCU, prior to graduation none of the women had the minimal financial resources to become direct members of the credit unions, but as a result of their income generation activities in the solidarity groups, the groups of 10-20 eligible women became members. WOCCU Chairman Bobby McVeigh said first-hand knowledge of the impact of WOCCU’s work in Ecuador is a reminder of the transformative power of credit unions. Witnessing the pride of these women as they became individual members of the credit union is something I’ll never forget, he said.

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