Delegation receives training, discusses strategies with World Council, state credit union leagues.
Credit union executives from Dominica are in the United States to continue their work with World Council of Credit Unions in rebuilding a system devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Dominicans also are meeting with member organizations of the Wisconsin Credit Union League and Indiana Credit Union League for training and information exchanges during their visit.
Phoenix Belfield, Manager of Dominica Cooperative Societies League Limited (DCSLL), began the week meeting with World Council’s Advocacy team in Washington, D.C. on IFRS 9 international accounting standards and advocacy strategies for Dominica’s credit unions.
Belfield then traveled on to Madison, where he was joined by three other Dominican credit union colleagues: Aylmer Irish – CEO of National Co-operative Credit Union Limited, (NCCU), Jacqueline Roberts – Administrative Officer for NCCU Castle Bruce/La Plaine branch, and Ericson Robinson – General Manager for West Coast Cooperative Credit Union. (WCCU)
While in Madison, the Dominicans participated in training with World Council leaders on the PEARLS accounting system. They also met with officials from the Wisconsin Credit Union League, UW Credit Union and Blackhawk Community Credit Union to learn about governance, financial best practices, training, and advocacy.
The group will travel to Indiana next week for meetings with Indiana Credit Union League (ICUL) leaders on strategic planning for financial health and member services. The Dominicans also will learn about agricultural lending, services and technology from officials at Interra Credit Union, and discuss product operations and strategic planning with professionals from Afena Federal Credit Union.
The visit comes after World Council and ICUL members visited Dominica in 2018, just one year after Hurricane Maria damaged the NCCU’s headquarters and branch locations across the island—a major blow, since credit unions serve 97% of the island’s population.
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions—the charitable arm of the World Council—raised over $200,000 to rebuild DCSLLL headquarters, as well as ten credit union branches.
While the credit unions have been physically repaired, the economic impact is still being felt. Infrastructure and economic damage has impacted credit union balance sheets and income. Dominica lost 96% of its GDP in 2017 as agriculture was devastated, large amounts of farmland were affected by flood waters and Ross University School of Medicine moved to Barbados. Credit union loan performance was significantly impacted as a result.
The credit unions asked for technical support in working through the impact of the disaster on their financials and in putting in place improved risk-management systems. They also asked for advice in supporting their members who have lost their means of livelihood and have had to shift to new types of economic activity—such as agriculture.
“The money raised through our Disaster Relief Fund allowed us to respond to the physical damage caused by Maria, but both World Council and our state credit union leagues recognize there is much more work to be done to get the island’s credit union system completely back on its feet,” Worldwide Foundation Executive Director Mike Reuter, said.