World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde Wednesday thanked U.S. credit unions for their support and highlighted the ways they can learn from the global movement to improve their own operations in a main stage address on the final day of the 2023 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
“It is the U.S. credit union system that, roughly a year ago, helped us raise through our Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions nearly $2 million in philanthropic donations to support credit unions in Ukraine," said McCarter LaBorde, referencing WFCU's Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund. "And we have kept the doors open among credit unions in Ukraine lending to farmers who are part of protecting food security. They are some of the only ones lending in the country—certainly the only ones in rural communities and small towns. So, thank you for enabling us to be where it matters."
McCarter LaBorde also called on the more than 5,700 GAC attendees to get even further engaged with the wider global credit union movement to boost the performance of their own credit unions.
“Credit unions in Canada, Australia and Brazil have already thrived in Open Banking. Credit unions in Kenya, called SACCOs, the savings and credit cooperatives, are rolling out neo-banking for credit unions—leapfrogging many of the legacy tech systems that hold us back in a lot of places,” said McCarter LaBorde.
With climate resilience and sustainable finance now a major strategic focus for WOCCU, McCarter LaBorde also highlighted the ways some credit union systems are taking the lead in that area.
“Credit unions in Costa Rica, Australia and Colombia are many years ahead in defining how they serve customers in the midst of climate change. They’re investing in biodiversity; they’re investing in regenerative products; they’re a part of the acknowledgment that we have to move to a greener economy for ourselves and for our customers. So, my message is—get engaged. Take advantage of this global network. That is what World Council of Credit Unions is here to represent.”
Finally, McCarter LaBorde made one more request of attendees as they left GAC to meet with their members of Congress.
“Please tell our story when you ‘Hike the Hill.’ Because credit unions are uniquely positioned, not only in the United States, but in so many other countries—in rural communities, in urban centers, across dispersed islands. We are where it matters, and we are part of making financial systems work for everyone.”
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