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Colombian government taps WOCCU to expand services
MADISON, Wis. (9/25/08)--With backing from the Colombian government, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has begun a US$1.5 million, two-year program to strengthen Colombia's credit unions and introduce technologies so they can provide financial services to the underserved.
A new World Council of Credit Union program will help Felix Arias Maldonado, a member of Coopesagua CU who owns a small watch repair stand in northern Colombia near the Venezuelan border, get access to financial services. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The Colombian government, through its Banca de Oportunidades program, is funding the new program. WOCCU's program will work with Colombia's credit unions to develop strategic plans for financial strengthening and savings mobilization, and to implement new microcredit products and services to reach a broader membership. "The fact that the government of Colombia has noticed the significant financial, managerial and membership growth of these credit unions speaks highly of the level of technical assistance our projects provide to our credit union partners," said Mark Cifuentes, WOCCU senior vice president of technical services. WOCCU also will work with the existing WOCCU Services Group (WSG) office in Colombia, SumaRed S.A., to expand products and services to credit unions there. WSG offices are a new model of credit union service organizations that provide technical, operational and regulatory expertise to credit unions in countries where WOCCU has or had programs. They also assist credit unions in developing and implementing new technologies, products and services to reach underserved areas more efficiently and quickly. WSG offices currently exist in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico and Peru. Colombia's government reorganized the country's financial system following an economic recession that debilitated the credit union system more than a decade ago. It created a specialized supervisory unit and guarantee fund for the credit union sector. The country today has more than 200 credit unions, which serve 6% of the economically active population.
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