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New partnership with Georgia, USA


20 May 16

ABCUL has formed a new partnership with the credit union movement in the US state of Georgia.

Following discussions involving ABCUL, its counterpart Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) and the World Council of Credit Unions – as well as meetings between credit union leaders from Britain and Georgia – ABCUL is delighted to announce a World Council International Partnership with GCUA.

A delegation of credit union leaders from Georgia visited Manchester in March to meet with British credit union representatives and to attend the ABCUL Annual Conference. GCUA President and CEO Mike Mercer delivered an inspirational keynote address to conference delegates urging them to “be vital” to their members’ lives.

Last week, ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette travelled to Savannah, Georgia to speak at the GCUA Annual Convention, and was joined by Commsave Credit Union Treasurer Richard Munro (both pictured with Mike Mercer).

Mark Lyonette said: “It was a pleasure to host the delegation from Georgia at our Annual Conference in March, and an honour to address the GCUA Annual Convention.

“I was struck not only by how much we can learn from our counterparts in Georgia, but also by how many of the challenges around being vital for members, introducing new products, and technological change are common to credit union movements of all sizes. I believe this World Council International Partnership is a very exciting opportunity for ABCUL members to learn, share and grow through co-operation with colleagues in Georgia.”

In the state of Georgia, 121 credit unions serve over 2.1 million members, and have combined assets of around £14.5 billion. In Britain, 342 credit unions serve more than 1.2 million members and have combined assets of over £1.3 billion.

Richard Munro said: “Georgia credit unions have a 50 year head start on us! So by fostering a twinning partnership, we can tap into their experience and knowledge and use this to build stronger credit unions here in Great Britain.   

“Attending the Georgia credit union conference gave me the opportunity to network with staff and directors keen to build a strong partnership with us. I was impressed with the way every delegate I spoke to was willing to share their journey and spoke of the pitfalls as well as the successes. I returned home with a long list of things my own credit union can consider to help develop us further.”

Georgia credit unions have a history of international co-operation, having worked with Polish credit unions for more than two decades in a "People to People" partnership. The benefits of this new initiative are expected to accrue via mutual learning opportunities, leadership development and a deeper practical appreciation for the co-operative business model.

Referring to the 19th century Rochdale Pioneers of co-operation, Mike Mercer said: "Our business model is rooted in England with the Rochdale co-operatives. We welcome the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our counterparts in Great Britain."

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