Credit unions in Antigua & Barbuda are hoping to pool their resources with others in the Eastern Caribbean to remain sustainable, particularly in the current economic climate.
Representatives of the umbrella body of local unions, the Antigua & Barbuda Credit Union League, were in St Vincent and the Grenadines last week attending the 7th Annual Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Credit Union Summit, where they?re hoping the plan will move forward.
General Manager of the Community First Cooperative Credit Union Ingrid Omarde, who is one of the facilitators of the meeting, told The Daily OBSERVER that OECS credit unions are working at setting up an Eastern Caribbean Co-op Central.
She said that would allow the institutions to look at, among other things, how they can remain sustainable.
?By doing that, we will begin to focus on finding a way to pool our resources so that we invest together and set up what is called central financial facilities, so that we can borrow from ourselves and lend to ourselves as credit unions,? she said.
?The Central will look very closely at where we go from here, in terms of ensuring that the credit union movement doesn?t fall through the cracks and that what has happened to financial institutions in the global arena does not happen to us.?
Omarde said a Secretariat for the body is already in place and a full Board of Directors, comprising representatives of each of the member leagues of the OECS, will be put in place at the end of the meeting today.
Meantime, speaking at the meeting?s opening ceremony on Wednesday, President of the Caribbean Federation of Credit Unions Yvonne Regard said business had been good for credit unions last year.
She said that 2008 saw a seven per cent increase in credit union membership, a 15 per cent increase in savings and share investments, and an increase in loans made by regional credit unions.
?Credit unions were spawned in times of economic adversity and mainly to provide credit to the marginalized and the underserved. Therefore, these uncertain times should not daunt us if we stick to our core business and continue to provide competitive financial services in a safe environment to our members,? Regard said.