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WASHINGTON – Prior to leaving for the Independence Day recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $10 million for the Cooperative Development Program and $225 million for micro-enterprise funding. The World Council of Credit Unions uses some of these funds to help develop and stabilize credit union systems in economically depressed countries. CUNA Legislative Affairs Manager Katie Herberger, who has been involved in lobbying for WOCCU, explained that seven cooperative groups, including the National Rural Electric Cooperatives and Land O’ Lakes, have been working together for years to obtain the $10 million that the alliance also received last year. WOCCU will get $3.7 million under the CDP for its projects in Afghanistan, Kenya, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. The House also earmarked $10 million for the program. “The idea of the CDP is to develop replicable methodologies to translate into stronger credit union systems around the world,” WOCCU Governmental Affairs Manager Molly Schar explained. For example, in the Philippines and Ecuador, WOCCU has created the Savings and Credit with Education group to provide financial education, particularly to women who often have the least access to financial services, that could easily be set up elsewhere. Additionally, WOCCU is helping to write the credit union law for Nicaragua. In Kenya, credit unions are developing products and services tailored to help deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis and in Ecuador and Afghanistan, WOCCU is helping to provide credit union board and staff training. WOCCU is also working to bolster the entrepreneurial spirit in the poorest areas of Mexico.

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