15 Oct

International Credit Union Day 2009

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – INTERNATIONAL Credit Union Day is being celebrated today (Oct. 15) the world over, and the Federation’s credit unions are using the chance to reflect on significant growth despite challenging circumstances.

‘Your Money, Your Choice, Your Credit Union’ is the theme that has been chosen for this year’s event.

In Nevis, General Manager of the Nevis Cooperative Credit Union Sydney Newton said the institution has witnessed significant growth since its 1972 establishment. He said while the company blossoms in the areas of savings and providing loans, it has had to meet many challenges to consistently remain a safe investment for its members.

“Our major accomplishment is the phenomenal growth of assets from under EC $1 million to now over EC $67 million. Of course, we have seen this in the areas of savings and the ability to provide loans for education, business and housing.

“The major challenge is maintaining sound operation in the light of the constant changes in financial systems, both from changes in regulatory framework and crises that from time to time arise,” he told SKNVibes.

Newton said it is critical to change with the time, taking advantage of technology. To this end, the Nevis Cooperative Credit Union now uses its website to disseminate information and to educate the public; offers internet banking; and boasts of a credit card service for the convenience of its customers.

The financial institution is gearing up to launch its international debit card service to compliment the launch of the junior cooperatives project in the schools, a move he suggests would be “in the best direction to serve our members better”.

In St. Kitts, a similar success streak has been recognized during almost three decades of service by the St. Kitts Cooperative Credit Union (SKCCU).

General Manager Sheryl Bass indicated that one of the major achievements of the credit union is improving the quantity and quality of services amid uncertain economic conditions.

“The SKCCU, like all other financial institutions, would have its ups and downs, but after 27 years we have weathered the storms well and we could not have done this without the unwavering commitment of our members.

“Credit unions are often referred to as sleeping giants, but I think we are realizing our potential as we try to cement our place in the financial services sector,” she stated.

During a recent interview with SKNVibes, Bass informed that one of the greatest challenges for the institution has been surviving as a small business in the face of what she described as “intense competition”.

However, she remains optimistic that that the future of credit unions is on a favourable path.

“I think we have a very bright future ahead of us. We just launched our credit card service and the Junior Saver’s Account, and we believe they will take off. Certainly we want to work at improving the quality of our service to our members and make sure our quality is second to none,” Bass concluded.

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