Supporter Updates


Credit Unions at the Collision of Two Global Crises

2019 was a year of global refugee crisis: 70 million people displaced from their homes and spilling into neighboring countries. Credit unions were called upon by their communities to help settle and provide a future for them. 2020 is the year of the global COVID-19 crisis. Again, credit unions step up to support their members’ and their communities’ ability to survive the economic impact of the crisis.

Immediate assistance includes food and shelter relief. Credit Unions in Peru and Ecuador committed to help Venezuelan refugees find a lasting solution through integration into the local economy. Professional certification and labor skill job matching provide longer-term stability. Credit unions provide refugees with a place to save, access credit and build assets.

In Ecuador, the COVID-19 pandemic led to reports of bodies left in the streets of Guayaquil to be picked up by trucks in the morning. Today, Peru suffers the second highest COVID-19 death toll in Latin America. A large proportion of the victims are refugees. Both countries have locked down. The governments provide economic support for their citizens but there is none for the Venezuelan refugees. Without the assets to support themselves, they work in the manual front-line jobs with little protection. Those who have medical backgrounds are hired to provide front line service to the COVID-19 victims.

Our Peruvian and Ecuadorian colleagues maintained steadfast in their commitment to integrate the refugees through the crisis. Your support enabled us to establish a partnership with USAID and the Peruvian and Ecuadoran credit unions to deepen the economic integration of the refugees through credit unions. We tackle the challenge in a post COVID-19 world where travel is restricted and face-to-face meetings are unsafe. Communications and outreach exploit new means of social media communication, virtual gatherings and digital delivery.

Thank you for your support in making a difference in the lives of these people caught at the nexus of two global crises.

Stay well,


Brian Branch
President and Chief Executive Officer
World Council of Credit Unions

What is the international credit union movement facing?

We have endeavored to stay in communication with credit unions around the world over the last month. Technology today allows us faster and more complete information exchange than during previous crises. We are looking at three waves: Coronavirus Health Crisis, Credit Union Institutional Stress and Global Recession. 

International Credit Union Update on Coronavirus Impact

While on one hand, it strikes me that social distancing is lonely work, on the other hand, I have also been struck with the sense of community of our international network.

As Venezuela Collapses; Helping Latin American Credit Unions Integrate Immigrants and Refugees into Local Economies

Many of the geopolitical challenges that we see in the news have their roots and their impact at the community level. Credit unions everywhere are community-based organizations. Communities turn to their credit unions to mitigate these challenges — and those credit unions often turn to us to support their capacity to do so.

Setting the Framework for Global Digitization in Kuala Lumpur

The global credit union system reached the Vision 2020 target of 260 million members at the end of 2017, three years early. Yet not all credit unions or country systems grew equally. Those credit unions that offered their members robust online and mobile channels grew, while those that did not showed stagnant growth. Smaller country systems that used shared payment platforms showed growth, while others without digital channels lost market share and displayed little growth. The next challenge is not a new number for membership growth, but instead, addressing the channels for feeding membership growth for the future.

Credit Union Resilience Disaster Response Engagement in Puerto Rico

In August, we flew back in to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with our colleagues from California, North Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas and Colorado to share the lessons learned from credit union responses to disasters around the country. 

Study and Service in Puerto Rico: Launching "Operation Stormbreak"

We will return to Puerto Rico August 1-6, after the World Credit Union Conference (WCUC) July 28-31 in The Bahamas. During WCUC, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will launch “Operation Stormbreak” — the establishment of a forward-prepared fund to respond immediately when a natural disaster happens.

Rebuilding Shattered Lives in Kurdistan

We traveled to Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, at the request of former military personnel, to explore a credit union approach for serving refugees. Can credit unions help refugees in the camps find a way to build assets, re-engage in a productive economy, and move from relief dependency to self-sufficiency?

Keeping Families Together: Guatemalan Credit Unions Launch Young Entrepreneurs Fund

Guatemala has one of the highest numbers of small business startups in Central America. Yet only one in seven startups survive the first year of operation. Young entrepreneurs are high risk credit subjects and therefore credit unions have been reluctant to finance them.

2018: End of Year Report

Supporter contributions fund the credit union development programs in the field that the World Council and the Worldwide Foundation carry out. We look at what challenges we have faced, what we have accomplished and what is still underway at year-end 2018. 

Caribbean Hurricane Relief: Dominica Credit Union Rebuilding

Hurricane Maria in 2017 damaged 18,000 of the island’s 23,000 buildings. The island has six credit unions on the island serving 97% of the population. 

Field Engagements Planned for 2019

"Engagement trips are like traveling in a time machine. Sometimes you go to the future. Sometimes you visit the past.” - courtesy of one of the Worldwide Foundation’s engagement participants.

Progress at Busia

Worldwide Foundation continues to support the Busia orphanage with food and school fees. In 2018, after young girls at the orphanage had been harassed by men who tried to break into their dormitory, Worldwide Foundation called for donations to build a protective wall around the orphanage.

Rebuilding for Puerto Rico: Loan Participation Workshop

On the island of Puerto Rico there are 115 state-chartered credit unions (CUs) with 1 million members and $8.1 billion in assets. There are 9 federal chartered credit unions with 85 thousand members and $800 million in assets.

A Deep Dive in Asia

We depend on financial support of credit unions for the work we do. We also depend on the commitment of personal time and voluntary effort of credit union people to make a difference in the lives of many around the world.

Puerto Rico: Preparing for the Next Hurricane Season

In Puerto Rico there are 115 state-chartered credit unions with one-million members and $8.1 billion in assets. There are nine federal-chartered credit unions with 85,000 members and $800 million in assets.

Economic Democracy

We remember that when Poland achieved political democracy, the leadership of the Solidarity trade union movement sent its young leaders abroad to study credit unions and pursue economic democracy as well.

At the Bottom of the Pyramid

In March, we returned to Busia Kenya, to the orphanage that credit unions built. We did basic service work, painting and repairing facilities, planting banana trees, mixing cement and laying tiles. We cooked and entertained the children. Why an orphanage?

Supporting Credit Unions & Orphans in Kenya

There are 6,400 credit unions in Kenya, called SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperatives) serving 6.2 million members.

Developing Business Lending in Guatemala

Communities in Guatemala have seen the departure of their youth. “We have no future here: no jobs, no money”, Josué, 12 years old, from San Pedro told us. So, the communities turn to their credit unions for a solution.

Credit Union Relief Knows No Borders

One of the privileges that we enjoy working in the credit union movement is to be part of a global community which reaches out in times of disaster to help each other regardless of borders.

A Deep Dive in Ukraine

We flew into Kiev from Vienna. Others came from the US, Poland and Kenya. After three years of war, our Ukrainian colleagues were relieved to receive outside visitors. 

Colombia: From War to Peace

The conflict in Colombia ran for 50 years. It took place between the military, para military, rebels, guerrillas, narco-traffickers and crime syndicates. 

Recovery in Haiti

We remember the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that destroyed much of Port au Prince, including credit unions. Credit unions provided some of the very first relief in their local communities. Credit unions in the Dominican Republic established a supply line of water and food to credit unions in Haiti.

Working with Youth in Central America

Since 2013, migration north from Central America by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children has put stress on the border and on the political environment. It is the result of a crisis in the communities from which they come: lack of security, lack of an economic future and poor infrastructure.