Canada and Indonesia Connect Through CU 2000 (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic
Format by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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Dec., 1997
(Source: Co-op Dialogue, Vol.7, No.3, Sept-Dec.1997,
pp. 8-10)

Canada and Indonesia connect through CU 2000
Shannon Dumba*
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The lush tropical forest of North Sumatra is a world
away from the rolling prairie of Saskatchewan. But, as
Colin Markusson of Raymore, Saskatchewan sits down, with
his Indonesian credit union colleagues, to a breakfast of
rice and fish, he feels right at home. The reason,
according to P.M. Sitang-gang, President of the Credit
Union Coordination of Indonesia (CUCO), is simple.

"Among credit union people it's very easy to communicate
because we speak the same language, the credit union
language," he explains. "We are all credit union people
here. We belong to the same family."

North Sumatra is an Indonesian province on the island
Of Sumatra, to the north-west of Java, Indonesia's most
populous island, which is home to the capital Jakarta.
Although they hail from far-flung corners of the earth,
the bond between Colin, Manager of the Raymore Credit
Union, and the North Sumatran credit union leaders he met
in September 1997 is obvious. 

It is this bond that is making the Indonesian credit
union development program Colin is involved with such
a remarkable success.

The CU 2000 Model Program is the result of a co-operative
effort by CUCO, the national apex organisation for
Indonesian Credit Unions, and the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA).

The two organisations have joined forces through the
Indonesia Co-op Development Assistance Program (INCODAP)
to design CU 2000, a training, technical and human resource
development program.

CU 2000 was created as a response to a need for change
within the Indonesian credit union movement. 

Over the last ten years, growth in the movement reached
a plateau. Through CU 2000, INCODAP is working with credit
unions from across Indonesia to improve their services and
increase their membership and assets. It's a straight
forward program that focuses on practicality, but includes
some ingenious twists. 

What INCODAP refers to as the `CU 2000 Dream Team' is one
of these twists. The team is made up of Canadian credit
union managers, like Colin Markusson, who have volunteered
their time and expertise to travel to Indonesia and assist
in the program's training sessions.

Now the General Manager of the Raymore Credit Union, a
Director with the Board of Credit Union Central of
Saskatchewan and a delegate to the Saskatchewan Region
Council of CCA; Colin started out in credit unions as a
teller. With over 30 years of experience in the credit
union movement, he possesses a great deal of practical
expertise. This expertise and the dedication that comes
from being a volunteer makes Colin and the rest of the
team CU 2000's most valuable players. 

When asked why he volunteered to assist with this
training, Colin does not hesitate.

"The opportunity to work with a grass roots movement,"
he says. "I miss that in Saskatchewan because our systems
have become more sophisticated and we don't seem to have
that strong grassroots concept we once had. To be able to
talk to folks that are just starting a Credit Union; to be
able to help people that haven't had a financial
institution of their own because the large banks don't
want to deal with poorer people - that's the most
fulfilling part of this experience for me."

Rick Weger, Credit Union Technical Advisor for CCA, assists
CUCO with the program. In his opinion, this return to the
grassroots benefits not only the individual managers, but
also the Canadian credit union movement as a whole.

"Canadian Credit Unions are starting to realise they have
to get back to their roots, to let their members know that
they are different from banks, that members have input into
their credit unions and that credit unions care about
people, not just profits," he explains.

"Bringing these credit union managers here reinforces their
commitment to the credit union principles so that when they
go back to Canada, they have a better sense of credit
unions as not just another bank," he continues. "It
rekindles the credit union philosophy for the managers as
individuals, and this gets spread that throughout their
credit union network back home."

The experience these managers possess enables them to
connect with the credit union leaders participating in
CU 2000's training program.

"The difference right now between the two movements is
about 50 years," explains Colin. "We also began our credit
union movement in Saskatchewan without offices. We  didn't have buildings. 
We didn't have furniture or equipment. We
started very simply and with very few members."

It is clear that participants trust in this kind of
practical experience. This trust is crucial to the
program's success.

Indeed, speaking with Kristina Manullang, a Director from
a credit union in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, it
becomes clear that the participants believe they can learn
a great deal from Colin and his Canadian experience.

"The system in Canada is new for us, the pension plan, the
management," says Kristina. "Here, our board members make
all of the major financial decisions. But, we hear from
Colin that in Canada the managers make many of these
decisions. I think, after this module, we will start to
make some changes in those areas."

The North Sumatran training session involves five credit
unions from the North Sumatran regional chapter. These are
five of CU 2000's `model credit unions'.

There are approximately 1600 credit unions in Indonesia,
with a total membership of approximately 250,000. When
designing the program, CUCO and CCA realised that
attempting to work with all of these organisations would
mean spreading them-selves too thin. The solution was to
involve six regional chapters from across Indonesia and
five primaries from each chapter, for a total 30. These
are the model credit unions participating in the CU 2000
Model Program.

Together, these model credit unions represent approximately
70 percent of the movement's membership and assets. Through
INCODAP, CCA and CUCO are working with the models to
strengthen the movement as a whole.

In its first year, CU 2000 is already leading to impressive
results in North Sumatra.

On average, from December 1996 to June 1997, the five North
Sumatran credit unions involved in the CU 2000 Model
Program outgrew those not involved in the program by 100
percent in terms of membership; 35 percent in terms of
assets; and 61 percent in terms of savings.

Also impressive is the fact that, since the program began,
all five of these credit unions have opened their bonds
from parish-based to community-based, which has greatly
expanded their market. As well, two of the five have
increased their staff to meet increased member demand for
services. 

At the North Sumatran training session, Rick commends the
participants on these results.

"I'd like to congratulate you for making these
improvements. I know making changes takes courage and
you all have shown courage. But, we've only just started,
we will continue making changes for the next 20 years. The
first steps are the most difficult. After you make those
first changes the others come easier."

Offering training is not new for CUCO. The organisation
began as the Credit Union Promotion Club of Indonesia in
the early 1970s, conducting basic orientation to credit
unions and community organisations throughout Indonesia.
More than 25 years later, training is still one of the
principal member services provided by CUCO to the credit
union movement.

The CU 2000 Program, however, is innovative in a number
of ways. Separate training sessions for Directors and
managers, consecutive training modules, action plan
creation and progress reports are all new aspects.

The course covers human resource management, financial
management, business development planning and policy
development. "I am very impressed with CU 2000," says
Colin. "It's a systematic approach to training management
and boards on separate occasions, but following a similar
curriculum. This is the first time managers are actually
taking this type of training separate from board members.
"I was also impressed that the model was developed by the
people of Indonesia with the help of CCA," he continues. 

"It is their wish to move in this direction. We are simply
here to facilitate and help them reach their goals. This
is a made-at-home program for people at home. That's
important."

If the results of CU 2000 to date are any indication, the
Indonesian credit union movement is on its way to a
promising future. In Colin's opinion, its success is certain.

"Very, very simply, when the customers are the owners of
the organisation, there is nothing but success ahead,"
he explains. 

"This type of organisation does not have to be huge or
make tons of profits. It simply has to provide service
to its members. In many parts of Indonesia, and Canada,
a credit union is the only way this can happen."

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*Shannon Dumba is a participant in CCA's Youth Experience
  International, an internship program funded by Human Resource
  Development., Canada.
  Ms. Dumba is completing her work placement as a Communication
  Officer for INCODAP.