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WOCCU teaches lobbying in Lat. America Caribbean
PANAMA CITY, Panama (5/11/10)--Executives from the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) and the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) combined efforts earlier this month to bring lessons in effective lobbying to credit union and association executives and volunteers from eight Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Click to view larger image Effective lobbying requires one voice, said Brian Branch, left, World Council of Credit Unions’ executive vice president and chief operating officer. Branch and Patrick Jury (right), Iowa Credit Union League president/CEO, offered counsel to Hector Cordova, CEO of FEDECACES, El Salvador’s credit union trade association.
“Your lobbying success will hinge on presenting a single message in a unified voice that represents the goals of all credit unions in your country,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer, to 55 participants in the two-day Panama Advocacy and Lobby Training workshop in Panama City. “By following a ‘one message, one voice’ strategy, your credit unions will demonstrate both a strength and solidarity that will make a positive impression on lawmakers and illustrate your commitment and capability to serve your members.” Seminar participants learned to build coalitions and marshal grassroots support for credit union issues, and how to craft and present an effective message that emphasizes key benefits of credit union development. Presenters also offered case studies of effective lobbying efforts in the U.S. to participants, who represented credit unions and their organizations in Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Puerto Rico. “Through our WOCCU Panama partnership, we’ve come to realize that lobbying and regulatory challenges facing credit unions in Panama
Click to view larger image “Credit Unions Are Here to Serve YOU” was the headline of the first industry-wide advertisement for Latin American and Caribbean credit unions in La Prensa, Panama’s daily newspaper.
are common among Latin American countries,” said Patrick S. Jury, president/CEO of ICUL, which maintains a relationship with Panama’s credit union trade group, Corporación Fondo de Estabilización y Garantía de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito de Panamá, R.L. (COFEP), through WOCCU’s International Partnerships Program. “This inaugural Latin American lobbying conference allowed us to focus on common public policy issues that can improve the financial lives of credit union members.” ICUL also joined COFEP and WOCCU to purchase the first industry-wide ad to appear on behalf of Panama’s credit unions in La Prensa, the country’s daily newspaper, which was published during the seminar. The ad’s headline - “Credit Unions are here to serve YOU”--characterized the “one message, one voice” concept and illustrated the effectiveness of simplicity in reaching out to Panama’s consumers nationwide. Special consideration was given to the importance of ethical lobbying practices, since such efforts are not regulated by law in most Latin American countries to the degree they are in the U.S.
Click to view larger image Participants of the two-day Panama Advocacy and Lobby Training workshop in Panama City, Panama, read an ad touting credit unions in the nation’s newspaper, La Prensa. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Participants also were presented with specific credit union scenarios and asked to design personalized lobbying initiatives to overcome the challenges in their countries. A panel of presenter-judges, including Mike Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president and general counsel, critiqued the proposed initiatives, noting strengths and weaknesses in individual plans. “There was a real need and genuine interest in creating a credit union advocacy program among the countries that participated,” said Lanotte, whose league maintains a relationship with Puerto Rico’s credit unions. The workshop opened with a presentation on the challenges facing cooperatives overall by Ana Giselle de Vallarino, director of the Panama Cooperative Institute. Representatives from several participating countries asked for similar presentations that would help bring the advocacy message to their credit unions, and these requests are currently being considered.
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