Grenada: Partnership between Credit Unions Produces Remarkable Results (1995)

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   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.
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                Tale of Two Credit Unions
    Partnership Produces Remarkable Results in Grenada

     A report from the World Council of Credit Unions

Communal Cooperative (formerly St. George's) and River Sallee
were two Grenada credit unions struggling to meet their members'
needs. Each had stopped growing and neither was taking a
proactive approach. But this has all changed. Thanks to these two
credit unions forming a partnership with the Central Florida
Chapter (a group of 23 credit unions in Florida, USA),
significant results are being achieved. Here is their story.

    The Results

Communal Cooperative has seen its assets grow from under US$ 1.1
million in 1991 to US$ 2 million in 1994, an increase of 72.5
percent; savings increased by 58.3 percent (more than US$ 1.7
million dollars); and loan delinquency declined from 14.1 to 6
percent. 

While the numbers for River Sallee show less change at this time,
they do show improvement. Back in 1992, the River Sallee had a
loan delinquency rate of about 40 percent and a capital ratio
of -25 percent. Two years later, the delinquency rate is 15
percent, the net capital 1.5 percent, and 80 new members have
joined since the first of the year. 

What initiated this changes was a modestly funded U.S. Agency for
International Development project, managed by the World Council
of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Development Alternatives Inc. (USA),
the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, and the Grenada
Credit Union League.  

"We knew when we started the project in 1992 that it would
improve the participating credit unions, but we never dreamed of
the impact that would result," said Lois Kitsch, a Florida credit
union manager and U.S. Development Educator (DE). She first
volunteered her time in 1993, along with fellow DE Bob McCartney,
to provide technical assistance on behalf of WOCCU in Grenada.

    A Partnership Forms

Kitsch and McCartney's volunteer assignment with these two credit
unions, however, proved to be only the beginning. Within two
months, Kitsch had raised enough money through the Central
Florida Credit Union Chapter to bring leaders of Communal
Cooperative, River Sallee, and the Grenada League to Florida to
intern at chapter credit unions. They returned in June for more
training; the chapter again financed the trip. To date, the
chapter has contributed US$ 30,000 in cash and in-kind. As a
result of this partnership, the board of directors of Communal
Cooperative and River Sallee have provided the leadership
necessary to improve their credit unions.

    The Impact 

"My views about us changed. I no longer thought of us as a small,
struggling Caribbean credit union, but rather as part of a
movement that has a good deal to contribute to our community. By
adopting this broader vision, we now take in about one member a
day. We are helping make people's lives better," said Norma
Jeremiah, Communal Cooperative's manager.

As examples, Jeremiah speaks proudly about the young school
teacher,Claudia Sharon Ogilvie, who was able to start her own
private school in the lower level of her home thanks to US$ 5,600
loan from the credit union. After just four months, she has 99
pupils. Then there is Dennis Henry who, with a US$ 45,000 loan,
purchased an additional vehicle for his cab company. These are
just two of the members who have benefited; in fact, Communal
Cooperative has had a 92 percent increase in loans.  
    
    Benefits of Partnership

For the chapter members, these stories are their reward for the
time and money they are investing in Grenada. "By helping, we
have helped ourselves. The credit unions in our chapter, by being
a part of this partnership, have a much closer working
relationship than before," explained Bob Beskovoyne, president of
Martin Marietta Credit Union. He, along with Trudy Prince,
president of Central Florida Health Credit Union, have also gone
to Grenada to provide technical assistance.

    Another Chapter to the Story

At the end of November 1994, the Central Florida Chapter added
Grenville Credit Union to the project. Because the Grenada League
is teaching the lessons learned from Communal Cooperative and
River Sallee to its other credit unions, Kitsch explained that
Grenville began the program in better financial shape. "Our two
main characters, Communal Cooperative and River Sallee, have done
well. It is now time to expand on the story," she said.

If interested in learning about partnerships, contact the People-
to-People Program, World Council of Credit Unions, PO Box 2982,
Madison, WI 53701-2982, USA, or fax +1 608-238-8020.