Woccu chief visits Europe to meet Ukrainian and Polish credit union leaders

Elissa McCarter LaBorde's visit follows a series of initiatives to support credit unions in Ukraine

The head of the World Council of Credit Unons (Woccu) is meeting Ukrainian and Polish credit union leaders in Poland to discuss the challenges they face due after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Elissa McCarter LaBorde

Elissa McCarter LaBorde, president and CEO of the global apex, will also visit leaders of Credit for Agriculture Producers (CAP) a USAID-funded Woccu project set up to strengthen Ukraine’s credit unions and expand access to agricultural lending.

She is also meeting representatives of Kasa Stefczyka, the largest credit union in Poland, which has begun enrolling Ukrainian refugees as members, and Rafal Matusiak, chair of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), which is Woccu’s direct member credit union association in Poland. 

“Woccu recognises the credit unions we work with in Ukraine are facing mounting challenges caused by the Russian invasion” said Ms McCarter LaBorde. “We want to know how we can help today and in the coming months and years.

“We also want to make sure that any solutions we develop are done in coordination with our member credit union associations in neighbouring countries like Poland, which are already doing so much to help in this time of need.” 

Woccu’s charitable arm, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU), along with USAID, has recently released the second and final payment from a US$1m liquidity fund to help credit unions working on the CAP scheme to resume agricultural lending and support food security in Ukraine. The first payment, of nearly $500,000, was released earlier this month.

The second part, totalling almost $500,000, has gone to the Ukrainian United Credit Union (UUCU) and United Credit Union of UNASCU (UCU of UNASCU), the central financing facilities for Ukrainian credit unions. 

This funding is a response to the demand for loans from agricultural producers in areas of western Ukraine less affected by the war. It is also hoped the measure will tackle food insecurity – not just in Ukraine but around the world, given the country’s important role as a exporter of food and inputs.

Within a week of the Russian invasion, WFCU launched the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund, which has raised more than $1m from more than 1,100 individuals, over 140 credit unions and dozens of credit union leagues, associations, foundations and other industry partners.

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of our global credit union movement” said Mike Reuter, executive director of WCFU. “While it is not surprising, because we know how our international community comes together in times like these, it is humbling and overwhelming to see so much support come in such a short period of time.”

The money raised will be used to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, offering help to refugees and credit union members. Funding will also be provided to support the long-term recovery and rebuilding of Ukraine’s credit union system. Donations can be made here.

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