Officials with World Council of Credit Unions’ Economic Inclusion Project and the Central Bank of Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement on October 20 to coordinate activities aimed at promoting financial inclusion among the Venezuelan migrant and refugee population, as well as vulnerable local residents in Ecuador.
The agreement was signed at the end of the first virtual conference on financial inclusion held in coordination with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)—which funds the Economic Inclusion Project—the Central Bank, World Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
"[USAID] wants to support migrants and alleviate the suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—helping people to progress beyond assistance. We also want to build socio-economic security for [both] Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru and Ecuador, as well as for the local communities," said William Kaschak, Director of USAID/Ecuador, in presenting the conference’s opening remarks.
The virtual conference featured shared experiences about how financial inclusion efforts have positively impacted vulnerable communities.
"The Central Bank of Ecuador, aimed at improving the country's financial inclusion rates in that way contributes to economic growth, accepts the constant challenge of developing smaller sectors, especially those of…refugees, by providing them access to financial services,” said Central Bank Manager Verónica Artola Jarrín. “We stimulate small economies to build capacity in optimal use of resources, increasing income so they can contribute in the activation of both the local and national economies.”
A primary goal for the Economic Inclusion Project is to provide 100,000 Venezuelans and local residents in Peru and Ecuador with access to financial services.
“[WOCCU] wants to support and help grow the global community of credit unions, which already has 291 million members,” said WOCCU President and CEO Brian Branch. “WOCCU's mission is to generate financial inclusion, much more than what’s seen in today’s market. We know this is possible because credit unions work closely with the most vulnerable populations, leveraging openness and flexibility to adjust their products and policies to foster financial inclusion."
The Central Bank broadcast the virtual event on Facebook Live, drawing more than 160 attendees—including representatives of Ecuadorian financial associations, savings and credit unions, and international and local support organizations.