Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU) utilized Sunday’s inaugural Cooperative Voices Event to launch a new fundraising effort in support of Ukrainian credit unions impacted by the current military conflict in the Eastern European nation.
The Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund will help to mitigate both short- and long-term impacts to Ukraine's credit union system and those who look to it for support, including both employees and members.
Between proceeds from the Cooperative Voices Event, held on the eve of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), and donations from Worldwide Foundation Champions, more than $43,000 were raised for the Displacement Fund in just the first few hours of the campaign.
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions is the charitable and engagement arm of World Council of Credit Unions, which has a pair of member credit union associations in Ukraine and boasts a 30-year history of providing both regulatory and development support to build and strengthen credit unions there.
“Thank you to the (Worldwide) Foundation staff. This is the right thing to do, this is the global community, this is the power of a network like this,” said Elissa McCarter LaBorde, World Council president/CEO, during her speech at the Cooperative Voices Event.
Mike Reuter, executive director of Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, said credit unions from around the world reached out over the past few days to ask how they could help their colleagues in Ukraine.
“Our global credit union community stepped forward immediately with both concern and support for their Ukrainian peers. Proceeds from the Cooperative Voices Event, as well as donations provided to the Displacement Fund, will help Ukraine’s credit unions in the short and long term," said Reuter.
Anyone interested in donating to the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund can do so by clicking here. People in the United States can also donate by texting CUS4UKRAINE TO 44-321.
Bridging the Gap
Champions who attended the Cooperative Voices Event, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group and held at the National Museum of the American Indian, also heard concrete examples of how WFCU is helping to bridge credit union gaps that transform member communities worldwide.
Oscar Guzman, chief of party for World Council's Economic Inclusion Project, told the story of Yargelis Herrera, a Venezuelan migrant who received assistance to start her own business in Peru.
“Just like Yargelis, Venezuelans have left their country looking for opportunities,” said Guzman. "They started their journey with dreams of having a better life, but also very afraid of leaving everything behind: family, friends, work, business, their homes and everything they had fought for. The School of Dreamers, one of the Economic Inclusion Project programs implemented by WOCCU, with the support of USAID and in partnership with Union Venezolana, has made Yargelis' dreams come true."
Esther Rajadurai, an Australian credit union policy analyst, shared how the World Council Young Credit Union Professionals (WYCUP) program is helping her create connections between established credit union professionals and young leaders through a mentorship program she created.
“Credit unions globally are facing similar challenges and we can use this network to solve some of them. And that just lights a flame in my mind because it's so exciting that we can just brainstorm together and it feels like we are all in the same room, even thought we are miles apart in different countries,” said Rajadurai in a video message prepared for the event.
The Cooperative Voices Event served as a window into how WFCU’s Bridge the Gap campaign is helping credit unions bridge gaps they have identified in four areas: inclusion, leadership, gender and safety.
To learn more about WFCU’s Bridge the Gap campaign, or to donate, click here.