International News round up: August

Europe The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union has called for increased focus on support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for social enterprises and co-operatives....


The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union has called for increased focus on support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for social enterprises and co-operatives. In its conclusions on the role of the private sector in international development, the council also highlights the need to place particular emphasis on women’s and youth entrepreneurship and employment and their ability to access resources and participate in decision-making.

Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe (the regional organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance for Europe), said: “We welcome the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s endorsement of the role that private sector players, such as co-operatives, can play in achieving poverty reduction, sustainable development and inclusive growth. We will continue working with EU institutions and partners on how co-operative enterprises can positively contribute to the EU’s development goals”.


Credit Unions in the USA have reached a significant milestone with 100 million members nationwide, according to figures released by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The figure is based on CUNA’s estimates for credit unions as of June 2014 and represents an increase of 2.9% from the previous 12 months.

“We do take into account, in making that estimate, that there are some people who are members of more than one credit union,” said Vicky Christner, media relations manager at CUNA. “On the other hand, we also take into account that – in a number of cases – there may be one member in a family, but there may be many more family members (spouse, children) who are also using credit union services.”

Bill Hampel (Image:
Bill Hampel (Image:

President and chief executive of CUNA, Bill Hampel thinks the figure reflects the growing customer satisfaction and trust in credit unions.

He said: “Clearly, there is growing recognition for credit unions among consumers. They increasingly understand that a credit union places their interests above all else, particularly in returning financial benefits to consumer members in the forms of lower rates on loans, higher returns on savings, and lower and fewer fees.”


The Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) has appointed Elenita V. San Roque as its new chief executive. Ms San Roque, who is due to take charge on 1 September, has been working for ACCU since 1995. She has a background in accounting and between 1990 and 1994 provided external auditing and management advisory services to co-operatives, credit unions and private businesses.

Elenita V. San Roque
Elenita V. San Roque

Her main objective will be to increase integration between credit union networks while continuing to work closely with national federations to ensure a higher level of integration among credit union networks.

Referring to the challenges faced by credit unions, Ms San Roque said: “Safety and soundness of credit unions is still an issue. It is the result of poor governance. ACCU will assist members to build a solid foundation for the unification of the credit union network through sharing of resources, standardised operations, contractual solidarity and strategies of internal governance.”

She added that ACCU would continue to provide support to member credit unions in terms of branding, monitoring as well as governance and human resources certifications.

New Zealand

Cooperative Business New Zealand and the Institute of Directors are collaborating to create a new professional development course for the country’s co-operative directors.

The programme aims to help meet the governance requirements of Kiwi co-operatives and the first course could be delivered by the end of the year.

Ian Macintosh (centre) with CBNZ board members
Ian Macintosh (centre) with CBNZ board members

“We’re continually looking to offer innovative programmes that provide the latest and best in co-operative education,” said Ian Macintosh, Chief executive of Cooperative Business New Zealand. “By partnering with the Institute of Directors we’re confident that we will develop training specifically for cooperatives’ chairs and directors with varying levels of experience and expertise.”

Chief executive of the Institute of Directors, Dr William Whittaker, also thinks that good governance can add real value to co-operative enterprises, which he said, play an important role in New Zealand’s economy.

“There’s a direct correlation between governance and performance. Good governance leads to optimal business decision making, which drives best economic outcomes,” he said.


Representatives from the co-operative sector made an important contribution at the second Regional Forum on Enterprises for Gender Equality. The event joined over 170 delegates from 14 countries in Latin America, who met in Cartagena to discuss how to promote gender equality in both the public and private sector.

Representing the International Co-operative Alliance for the Americas region, Inés Mendoza was one of the panelists presenting the results of the regional study “Gender Equality in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and co-operatives”. The study looks at the main strategies for the promotion of gender equality, while also looking at ways to increase professional development and inclusive communication.

One of the conclusions of the forum was that gender equality was more present in co-operative enterprises, due to their commitment to co-operative values and principles. Delegates also highlighted the importance of gender equality certification programmes. Since 2003, over 1,700 enterprises and organisations from 12 countries have obtained gender equality certifications from the United Nations Development Programme. The International Cooperative Alliance for the Americas is looking to increase the number of co-operatives with gender equality certification in the region.


eac logo

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) aims to create a harmonised legislative framework for co-operatives in the region through a new East African Community (EAC) Cooperatives Bill.

EALA is currently running public hearings in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi that will be fed into a report drafted by the EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources.

The bill, which went through the first reading in EALA in January, could be ratified by December. It seeks to improve national co-operative legislations within EAC’s five partner states by sharing best practices. With this law EALA also seeks increase co-operatives’ independence from governments and promote different types of co-operative enterprises. It also proposes the creation of an East African Co-operative Society.

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