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WOCCUs first Pacific Congress well-attended
NADI, Fiji (10/13/08)--From developing credit union bylaws to conducting a successful credit union meeting, operational basics dominated the agenda for the inaugural Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress in Fiji, co-sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Fiji Savings and Credit Union League (FSCUL) and Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA). Nearly 200 participants from nine countries gathered for the week-long educational event that concluded Oct. 3. The purpose of the congress--the first comprehensive meeting of its kind for the Pacific region--was to bring together credit union
Mark Cifuentes, World Council of Credit Union’s senior vice president of technical services (center), gives a hands-on presentation at the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress in Fiji. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
movements, their leagues, federations and government regulators from developing and developed nations in the Pacific region to share information and learn from each other. Attendees included credit union volunteers and professionals from Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the U.S. and Vanuatu. The high turnout made the Pacific Congress one of the most successful in WOCCU's series of regional educational sessions, according to Mark Cifuentes, WOCCU's senior vice president of technical services. Topics on the agenda, which also included defining board member authority and responsibility, financial management strategies and evaluating policies and procedures, filled a vital need for attendees, he added. “While exploring the unique challenges of the Pacific credit union movement, participants also benefited from a return to the basics of cooperative and financial principles,” Cifuentes said. “It was important to provide these emerging institutions with a solid foundation so that they can acquire the necessary skills to efficiently serve the needs of their members.” In addition to 156 people attending the congress, 36 attendees participated in the first year of WOCCU's Manager Certification Program, an intensive two-year course for credit union managers and aspiring managers. Certification program students study accounting basics, financial management and other topics specific to credit union operations. This year's participants are required to attend the second year of the program in order to complete certification requirements. Next year's certification program will be held in conjunction with the 2009 Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress. “Other participants of the congress would agree with me that the event was a great success,” said Tom Ha'aute, credit union services manager for Central Bank of Solomon Islands. “We've broken the ice and have passed a milestone for the whole movement.” Subsequent congresses and certification programs will be held in October in Banjul and Gambia, and in November in Bucharest, Romania. For more information use the link or contact Nicole Bice at nbice@woccu.org .
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