World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council is funded by member dues, government agency and foundation grants and annual gifts to World Council's Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions. World Council of Credit Unions and its subsidiaries are headquartered in Madison, Wis., USA. World Council also has a permanent office in Washington, D.C., and program offices worldwide.
World Council of Credit Unions was founded on the belief that all people have the right to affordable, reliable and accessible financial services. Its technical assistance programs have provided millions of poor and low-income people access to the array of financial services they need through credit unions, regardless of challenges posed by the operating environment.
World Council works with credit unions, their trade associations and regulators to drive savings mobilization and regulatory development while creating integrated business networks. Its team of financial experts works with local leaders to develop tailored products and services geared toward microfinance, rural finance and Islamic finance. Unlike many microfinance technical assistance providers that focus exclusively on credit, World Council's approach emphasizes the mobilization of member savings as the primary source of financing. This savings-based approach allows credit unions to reach greater scale in financial service provision and instills a level of financial discipline that ensures long-term sustainability.
Since 1971, World Council has implemented more than 275 technical assistance programs to build safe and sound financial cooperatives in 71 countries throughout the world.
On behalf of its members, World Council advocates for credit union-appropriate legislation and regulation with governments worldwide and provides consulting services for regulatory system development and legislative reform. World Council also tracks international credit union statistics, publishes the biannual Credit Union World magazine, sponsors International Credit Union Day® each October and hosts annual regional technical conferences and the World Credit Union Conference.
Some World Council members participate in World Council's International Partnerships Program, which pairs credit union associations, leagues and credit unions with an overseas counterpart to exchange operational, outreach and advocacy expertise.
World Council of Credit Unions represents the interests of its members in nearly 60 countries.
Policy and Advocacy
World Council actively monitors and participates in the policy development of international organizations to ensure credit union interests are represented while global standards are formed. It has published a number of resources on drafting effective legislation, including Model Law for Credit Unions, Model Regulations for Credit Unions and a technical guide to Credit Union Regulation and Supervision. World Council also provides consulting for its member associations undergoing change in cooperative or financial sector regulation.
In 2007, World Council established the International Credit Union Regulators' Network to build capacity among supervisors and help shape effective standards for credit unions. The group meets annually to discuss current global regulatory issues and to undertake research on specific topics related to the oversight of financial cooperatives.
Products and Services
World Council of Credit Unions Services Group (WSG) invests in the development of credit union products and services offered through local service organizations that are jointly owned by individual credit unions, their associations and WSG. Under the "Entura" brand, credit unions are able to offer members shared branching, domestic and international remittances and cell phone banking services as well as additional access points through automatic teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale (POS) devices at area businesses and personal digital assistants (PDAs) used by credit union staff during member visits.
Entura pools credit union interests and negotiates on behalf of the international network to secure competitive rates. Credit unions that otherwise may not be able to afford such products and services gain market access through Entura, and credit union members benefit from additional services at market price.
World Council has created a number of web-based and locally installed financial tools including its flagship PEARLS monitoring system, a set of financial ratios or indicators that help standardize terminology among institutions. The tools offer management guidance for credit unions and other savings institutions and can serve as supervisory tools for regulators.
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