MADISON, Wis. (8/19/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) MatchSavings program was featured Wednesday on Wisconsin Public Radio
in Madison, Wis. Jenny Bernhardt, WOCCU development communications manager, spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn about the program. MatchSavings, which is based in Madison, Wis., gives the working poor in Mexico the ability to open savings accounts and provides them incentives to continue saving. Here’s how MatchSavings works:
* Savers open their first savings account at one of WOCCU's partner credit unions in a developing country--currently rural Mexico. Savers establish a six-month savings goal and commit to regular monthly deposits. * Givers go to MatchSavings.org, choose which types of savings accounts (housing, education, microbusiness or health) they want to match and make a donation. * At the end of the saving period, savers receive the match on their savings principal, realize their savings goal and become members of a credit union that will help them reach their financial goals in the future.
Once savers complete the program, they are not eligible to participate again, but they have a credit union membership and a savings habit on which to build. “We’ve had a really high success rate,” Bernhardt said. WOCCU hopes to expand the program to other countries, she added. It’s difficult for residents of rural Mexico to open savings accounts because many of the savings institutions are located so far from where they live. Bernhardt, who has traveled to Mexico to visit credit union branch offices as a part of the program, said the road conditions could prevent residents from visiting their local savings institutions. The journey also could cost a day’s wages, she said. “There isn’t a whole lot of incentive for people to open a savings account if it means they have to go [to the credit union] themselves to do this,” she said. MatchSavings also has garnered mentions in national media. The New York Times
op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof noted MatchSavings in, “Sparking a Savings Revolution” which focused on savings programs for individuals worldwide to fight poverty and save for their futures (Dec. 30). The article provided a link to matchsavings.org and prompted donations. To listen to the program, use the link.