You must have a strong desire to travel thousands of miles over several days to attend an international conference with your peers—and endure the loss of all of your luggage along the way.
But three visitors from New Guinea, representative of thousands of others, certainly had that desire, even as they waited yet another day for their luggage before the kick-off of the America’s Credit Union Conference/World Credit Union Conference in Denver.
What does this global conference mean to these credit union executives? “Today there's a world of change in our industry, especially from the members’ point of view. We want to be kept up to date and be relevant,” said Gabriel Tai, board chair with Teachers Savings & Loan Society Ltd., Papua, New Guinea.
Gathering with so many credit union activists is critical because “no man is an island. We’re part of a global community. Board members need to stay up to date with the skills to have the foresight to lead their credit unions.”
With credit unions, “the heart comes before the pocket,” said William Varmari, credit union board director. “We should be proud, we’re a human-centered business and we should come together.”
Jack Namaliu, board chairman with the Federation of Savings and Loan Societies Ltd in Papua, New Guinea, pointed out that the federation is working with the Central Bank on amending the Savings and Loan Act to provide new service opportunities for credit unions, including the ability to charge up to 4% annually (from 1%) and to set up investment services (much like the U.S. credit union service organization structure). The three credit union representatives see these changes as essential, without having to seek Central Bank authority.
According to Varmari, modifying the act would offer “light at the end of the tunnel.” And the changes would enhance the ability of all credit unions, Tai added, to eliminate poverty and make the “small people [financially] equal with the big people.”
Editor’s note: We’re happy to report that just as the conference began, the credit union leaders from New Guinea finally received all of their luggage.