HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/31/13)--A Pennsylvania Credit Union Association diagnostic team arrived in Haiti Monday to begin a study aimed at federating credit unions by providing staff training and equipment.
A Pennsylvania Credit Union Association diagnostic team is in Haiti to conduct a study that will eventually help provide Haitian credit unions with improved staffing and equipment. Seated, from left: Joe Wambach, team leader and executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; Lois Kitsch, project manager of the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program . Standing, from left: Bob Connor Jr., former president of CU Ink, Philadelphia; Dr. Maryse Wambach, translator and cultural specialist; Chris Woods, PCUA and foundation board member and CEO, Keystone FCU, West Chester; and Linda Brown, executive vice president, Service 1st FCU, Danville. (Photo provided by Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
During the first several days of the 12-day visit, the team will review strategy and goals, study and meet with three organizations active in the growth of credit unions. They are: Fonkoze, a micro lending organization; Le Levier, a Canadian-funded organization responsible for developing a uniform system to federate credit unions; and The High Five project, a World Council of Credit Unions/U.S. Agency for International Development project that is introducing micro financing and a mobile banking remittance program in Haiti (Life is a Highway Oct. 28 and 30).
On Tuesday, the team met with Fonkoze Haiti and the Haitian Federation of Credit Unions. The team provided technicians with baseline information on micro lending (Fonkoze) and credit unions based in Haiti (federation); and gathered information on credit unions, which the team will study to determine their ability to respond to the needs of Haitians.
While Fonkoze operations were impressive, the team determined the program to be self-contained, presenting difficulties in forming a partnership, said Joe Wambach, team leader and executive director of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation. Fonkoze could not provide information or credit union contacts because it operates and lends through its own banks.
The Haitian Federation provided the team with its criteria for joining its network, which the technicians found impressive, said PCUA. It also provided the team with six credit unions to study for possible expansion of the network. The Haitian team offered details on its training program and equipment needs. The PCUA team is scheduled for a follow up meeting with the federation on Nov. 8 to outline its results.
The team will also visit a women's health project at Wharf Jeremie, one of the poorest sections of Port-a-Prince. During the remaining nine days of the visit, the team hopes to conduct diagnostic studies in at least 15 credit unions.
In addition to Wambach, members of the team include: