Ukraine war: Appeal launched to help credit unions in path of Russian attack

The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions wants to support sector workers and members in the country

The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU) has launched a Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund to support Ukraine’s credit unions.

The campaign will support employees and members of credit unions caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

WFCU is the charitable arm of World Council of Credit Unions (Woccu), which has been working closely with Ukrainian credit unions over the last 30 years, providing regulatory and development support.

Woccu also runs the Credit for Agriculture Producers (CAP) project in Ukraine, with the financial support of USAID. The programme aims to strengthen the Ukrainian credit union market and expand access to agricultural credit. The apex is now working with USAID and preparing contingency plans for CAP to ensure the safety of its staff, many of whom are Ukrainian nationals.

Related: Ukraine co-ops vow to keep operating in face of Russian invasion

“Thank you to the (Worldwide) Foundation staff. This is the right thing to do, this is the global community, this is the power of a network like this,” said Elissa McCarter LaBorde, Woccu president and CEO, at a Woccu Cooperative Voices event on 27 February.

Mike Reuter, executive director of WFCU, said credit unions from around the world have been reaching out to ask how they could help their colleagues in Ukraine.

“Our global credit union community stepped forward immediately with both concern and support for their Ukrainian peers,” he added. “Proceeds from the Cooperative Voices Event, as well as donations provided to the Displacement Fund, will help Ukraine’s credit unions in the short and long term.”

The fund raised more than US$43,000 (£32,000) for the Displacement Fund in the first few hours. Donations can be made online or by texting CUS4UKRAINE TO 44-321. 

On 4 March Woccu also released a statement condemning the invasion.

“Woccu harshly condemns the Russian government’s decision to invade the independent and sovereign nation of Ukraine and use military force to cause massive devastation, death and displacement there,” it said. “Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, our charitable and engagement arm, has mobilised the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund to provide financial support to mitigate both the short- and long-term impacts to Ukraine’s credit union system, its employees, and the members and communities it serves.

“Woccu has also made the decision to suspend all engagements and activities with Russia across all its entities and initiatives,” it said.

The Foundation will soon be releasing an updated plan for the use of donations coming into its Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund. 

First disbursement to go to Podolsk Regional Development Agency (PRDA)

On 15 March the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions announced that the first $50,000 from its Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund will be distributed to the Podolsk Regional Development Agency (PARD), a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced Ukrainians. The funding will be used to deliver food, water, medicine, bedding and other supplies to those internally displaced who are seeking refuge in the Vinnytsia region of western Ukraine.

“This is the first step in our commitment to put more than half of all initial donations to our Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund toward humanitarian relief efforts,” said Mike Reuter, Executive Director of Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions. “More relief dollars will also soon be sent to assist Ukrainians who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.”

The Foundation has also partnered with apex NCBA-CLUSA, the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and National Co+op Grocers (NCG), who are contributing to the fund and helping to raise money for Ukraine.

This story has last been updated on 15 March