CU Builds a Foundation For Growth and Service

In Colombia, one CU stands out for its contributions to local development.

April 4, 2011

In Colombia—a country often known for internal conflict—one credit union stands out for its contributions to local development and community service.

In 2008, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) selected San Miguel Credit Union in Garzón, Colombia, to participate in its Credit Union Strengthening Program, funded by Colombian development bank, Banca de las Oportunidades.

Located in the Huila district, 280 miles south of the nation’s capital, Bogotá, San Miguel Credit Union has come a long way since its founding as an agricultural and wholesale cooperative in 1961.

The credit union began offering basic savings and credit services in the late 1980s, then gradually shifted focus from retail activities to financial services. By 1998, membership had grown to more than 7,000.

Between 2008 and 2010, it increased savings from 48% to 61% of total assets, approaching WOCCU’s PEARLS monitoring system benchmark for savings of 70% to 80% of total assets. The credit union also achieved a membership growth rate of 24%, far surpassing the 15% growth benchmark set by the program.

Through its charitable foundation, the credit union contributes to community programs—including schools for music, sports, and dance—to better the lives of its members.

See how San Miguel Credit Union serves its members (photos provided by WOCCU):

San Miguel CU

Members conduct a variety of transactions at the teller services window of San Miguel CU’s Garzón branch.

A general assembly meeting brings together delegates from CU branches throughout the Huila district.

San Miguel CU
San Miguel CU

The San Miguel CU board conducts business at a branch office in the town of Acevedo.

A member reviews his loan application with Edilberto Gutierrez, commercial assistant manager at the Garzón branch.

San Miguel CU
San Miguel CU

A youth group completes a social service project under the direction of Alvaro Varon (second from left), director of San Miguel CU’s commercial department.

Javier Lizcano (right), loan department director, verifies the use of a housing loan taken by a member in the urban district of Garzón.

San Miguel CU
San Miguel CU

Jorge Eduardo Tello (far left), Garzón branch manager, and Javier Lizcano, (right) visit members in a rural area near Garzón, prior to disbursing a loan.