Credit Union ‘Oscars’ celebrate excellence across the sector

‘Co-ops and the credit union movement are a natural place for the next generation to make the changes they want to see’

Credit unions and professionals were honoured at the ninth edition of the annual Edward Filene and Joe Biden awards.

Presented by the International Credit Union Leadership Development and Education Foundation, the awards recognise credit unions and individuals around the world.

The winners were announced during a gala dinner in Manchester on 23 November, with guests from Indonesia, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago as well as representatives from Great Britain and Ireland.

The entries were judged by two panels, with judges carrying out scoring independently of each other.

In his keynote speech, Lord Maurice Glasman, patron of the foundation, told guests: “What you do is key to building a better future,” praising credit unions for promoting mutual aid and building trust.

This year’s awards dinner was held in conjunction with the Co-operative College’s Centenary Conference. Simon Parkinson, outgoing CEO and principal of the College, said he had learnt about the awards from a Co-op News article.

He decided to reach out to the foundation to work together to promote the two events. “We are a single movement,” said Mr Parkinson. “Leadership and education is not just about technical knowledge and skills, but being community activists and leaders and recognising the difference that our work makes.

“The next generation are politically active and knowledgeable. They are not going to go for the status quo. Co-ops and the credit union movement are a natural place for the next generation to make the changes they want to see.”

Mr Parkinson called on the movement to support the college on its journey to set up a co-operative university. “It will only work if the movement is ready to invest in the next generation of leaders,” he added.

Co-trustee Barry Epstein added that co-operative values “make economic sense”. He encouraged credit unions in the UK to take the lead on promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Named after congressman and former US vice president Joe Biden, the Awards for Development Educators are given to active graduate development educators. This year’s winners were Gadwin Handumon, Paglaum Multipurpose Cooperative, Philippines (from Asia), David Marquez, Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited, Trinidad & Tobago (from the Caribbean).

The Edward Filene Awards for Performance Excellence recognise the work of credit unions and practitioners to demonstrate how the sector can be a viable alternative offering financial services in Great Britain and Ireland. The Award has three categories – Leadership, Enterprise and Community Outreach.

The International Edward Filene Award for Excellence in Leadership featured two categories.

The A long term benefactor to a credit union category was won by Gadwin Handumon from Paglaum Multipurpose Cooperative in the Philippines, with runner up Dr Munaldus from Credit Union Keling Kumang in Indonesia.

Te Young Credit Union Leader aged 17-35 category was won by Patrick John Rico, ACDI Multipurpose Cooperative from Philippines.

For Great Britain and Ireland the Edward Filene Awards for Excellence in Leadership featured 11 credit unions, some of which took home multiple awards.

The Single Benefactor or Donor to a Credit Union award went to Jimmy Blair from Haghill & Dennistoun Credit Union Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland.

Cardiff & Vale Credit Union Ltd won in the Engaging in direct credit union advocacy with local and national politicians category.

Coalisland Credit Union was a winner in eight categories: Young Credit Union Leader aged 17 to 35 years – Sarah Kelly; Hosting Young Savers and Young Adults Schemes in places of education and the workplace; Serving as a financial incubator for seed, small and medium sized businesses operated by owner-members; Setting up ‘pop up’ credit union services – outreaching the credit union to new consumers; Engaging in Community Mobilisation and Outreach; The Millennial Award – encouraging involvement of this age group in all aspects of credit unions; Raising funds for good causes (other than the credit union) and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (joint winner). The credit union was a runner up in four other categories.

Community 1st Credit Union in Yorkshire was the winner in eight categories and runner up in seven categories: Edward Filene Supreme Award for Social Entrepreneurship; President, board chairperson, chief executive or general manager of a credit union – Gary Simpson; ‘Front Office’ Customer Services Officer – Julie Moss; ‘Back Office’ management/staff memberJan Clark; Young Credit Union Leader aged 17 to 35 years – Beth Moss – joint winner; Achieving Business Growth applying internal innovatory methods, mobilising external support from the private sector; and Demonstrating achievement of Prudential Standards.

Credit Unions of Wales also won in the category – Pursuing International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Principle 6 ‘Co-operation amongst Co-operatives.

Dragonsavers Credit Union in Wales were joint winners in The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals while Beth Walsh from Pioneer Mutual Credit Union in Glasgow won the Minerva Award for the empowerment of girls and women. Westport Credit Union won in the Use of the media and Film Production categories.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to British Credit Union Historical Society and its three founders – James Clancy, Frank Duffy and Martin Logan for having given unstinting efforts, unrewarded service to the movement.

Mr Logan, who has been a credit union volunteer since the 1980s, said the society needed more volunteers to continue to document every credit unions that has ever existed in Britain.

The top Award for Social Entrepreneurship went to Community First Credit Union, which achieved the highest score across all categories. Chief executive Gary Simpson said: “We do affordable loans and that might be the meaning of our lives.”