USAID urged to consider credit unions as part of its international development funding

Cuna and Woccu have asked Usaid to ensure there is a level playing field for smaller development contractors, such as credit unions.

Credit union representatives asked the US Agency for Development (USAID) to take the sector into account when allocating funding for international development.

During a meeting with USAID administrator Mark Green on 9 July, credit union leaders asked for a shift in the agency’s international development funding to include a wider array of smaller partners such as credit unions.

The meeting was attended by the US Credit Union National Association (Cuna) president and chief executive, Jim Nussle, and chief advocacy officer Ryan Donovan; and the World Council of Credit Unions (Woccu)’s president and chief executive Brian Branch and vice president of advocacy, Andrew Price. Also present was former congressman and House Foreign Relations Committee chair, Ed Royce.

Mr Branch said Woccu’s global credit union network reaches more than 260 million members in 117 countries. Woccu provides training and support to credit union members, helping them to face challenges and make a difference in their local communities.

“The World Council has a long history of using the financial co-operative model to foster international development and increase access to financial services, and with continued engagement with USAID and other policymakers, credit unions can do even more,” said Mr Nussle.

Mr Branch added: “This year World Council is successfully leveraging USAID funds to allow more small farmers to secure loans and grow their yields in Africa and Eastern Europe. In Haiti, we’re helping to finance affordable green-housing initiatives and boost financial literacy programs.

“But none of that would be possible without the assistance and buy-in from our partner credit unions on the ground. Administrator Green seemed very open to the idea that this type of model could be replicated across the world.”

Over the past couple of months Cuna and Woccu have also asked USAID to ensure there is a level playing field for smaller development contractors, such as credit unions, when prioritising procurement reforms.

In April Cuna and Woccu also wrote to the House Appropriations Committee in which they asked for increased funding for the Cooperative Development Program, a USAID-funded initiative that focuses on building the capacity of co-operative businesses.