The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has given support to three women credit union leaders to increase financial literacy in their communities.
Each year WOCCU awards grants to members of its Global Women’s Leadership Network. This year’s winners are: Kruewan Chonalanai, executive director of Credit Union Development Institute at Credit Union League of Thailand; Eleonora Zgonjanin Petrovic, chief executive of FULM Saving House in Macedonia; and Juliet C. Rawlinson, microfinance manager at Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative in the Philippines.
Brian Branch, president and chief executive of WOCCU, said: “The Global Women’s Leadership Network is about helping women make a difference in the lives of each other, their members and their communities. The empowerment grants allow members of the network to do so by volunteering in the field to help these women make that difference.”
The network offers scholarships to encourage emerging female credit union leaders to attend the annual World Credit Union Conference. This year applicants had to include project proposals to improve access to credit, loans, savings and leadership opportunities for women in their communities. They presented their ideas at the Global Women’s Leadership Forum in Denver, USA on 13 July.
Ms Chonalanai’s project involves setting up a social media platform and translation service. She explained: “It will be a collaborative method which draws on the expertise of Network members worldwide, the support of our local Sister Societies in Thailand, the Philippins and Nepal, and the help of the team at the Credit Union Development Institute and the Thai League’s Women’s Chapter Committee. Together we will be able to share the benefits of the network with our local co-operatives and encourage more women into leadership roles”.
In the Philippines Juliet C. Rawlinson will use the empowerment grant to support a higher number of female entrepreneurs and provide special training for women in rural communities. She is the officer in charge for the Business Development Center and Services (BDS), which was developed though the empowerment grant project of Elenita San Roque, chief executive of the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions.
“Winning the empowerment grant is a great honour,” said Ms Rawlinson. “Through it we can better help the community and enhance services to the less fortunate. With the support of the network, we will break down barriers for rural women, ignite their entrepreneurial spirit, and show there is hope for changing lives from the bottom to the top.”
The third winner of the grant, Eleonora Zgonjanin Petrovic aims to create a corporate exchange program through her credit union that will draw on network support and expertise to develop a communication strategy for financially excluded women and youth in Macedonia.
She added: “Attending the World Credit Union Conference was a wonderful learning experience and a long term investment for FULM.”