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Iowa CUs work to advance Panamas CU system
PANAMA CITY, Panama (7/11/11)--Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) executives and CEOs from three member credit unions traveled to Panama June 24-28 to help their counterparts in the Central American country address growth and development issues related to regulation and the development of a central finance facility.
Click to view larger image Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) executives and CEOs from three member credit unions visited Panamanian credit unions as part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Partnerships Program. From left, Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU International Partnerships senior manager; Mike Whittie, president, Federal Employees CU, Des Moines, Iowa; Tim Chapman, CEO, Members Community CU, Muscatine, Iowa; Ana Giselle Rosas de Vallarino, executive director of Panamanian Autonomous Cooperative Institute; Jim Niederhauser, ICUL director of credit union growth; Murray Williams, ICUL chief operating officer; Pat Drennen, CEO, 1st Gateway CU, Camanche, Iowa; and Warren Morrow, CEO, Coopera Consulting, Des Moines. (Photo provided by Iowa Credit Union League)
The annual exchange was the latest in a relationship between ICUL and the Panama credit union trade organization Corporación Fondo de Estabilización y Garantía de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito de Panamá, R.L. (COFEP), made possible in 2005 through World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “ICUL’s significant contributions to the program these past six years truly reflect the cooperative nature of our industry and show the value in sharing resources through this partnership,” said Victor Miguel Corro, WOCCU senior manager in charge of the program. While in Panama, the visitors and WOCCU hosted a day-long conference for more than 50 Panamanian credit union attendees. The conference provided best practices and addressed challenges facing Panama’s credit unions. Presentation topics included collaboration, new business development ventures, innovative ways to generate loan interest and development of a central finance facility to manage systemwide liquidity. Murray Williams, ICUL chief operating officer, spoke to the group about the importance of finding collaborative and innovative solutions to their members’ needs. Jim Niederhauser, ICUL vice president of member services, discussed the demands placed on credit unions by Generation Y. Warren Morrow, CEO of Coopera Consulting, a subsidiary of ICUL, showed how U.S. credit unions are growing by serving the underserved Hispanic market. Corro talked about the importance of international partnerships in strengthening the global credit union movement. The conference wrapped up with a panel of Iowa credit union CEOs discussing best practices from their institutions. Panel participants included ICUL Vice Chair Tim Chapman, CEO of Members Community CU, Muscatine; ICUL Board Member Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway CU, Camanche; and ICUL Board Member Mike Whittie, Federal Employees CU, Des Moines. Discussion topics included the typical day for a U.S. credit union executive, best practices in generating loan demand and an open forum discussion on the benefits of a central finance facility. During the visit, Iowa executives also participated in a meeting with the Panamanian credit union regulator. Ana Giselle Rosas de Vallarino, executive director of Panamanian Autonomous Cooperative Institute (IPACOOP) met with the Iowa delegation, WOCCU and COFEP to discuss the need for a cooperative central finance facility among Panamanian credit unions. A meeting with Panama’s cooperative trade association, CONALCOOP, addressed broad alliances across the cooperative movement and a microfinance fund to help start up small businesses in the country. “Sharing and learning from others is at the core of credit unions’ people-helping-people philosophy,” said Williams. “Collaboration will be critical to the future vitality of the U.S. credit union movement, and the same is certainly true in Panama.”
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