October 24, 2007
Deputy Premier and Minister of Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration, the Hon. Hensley Daniel told members and regional Credit Union officials that their institution had the opportunity to launch an assault on poverty and under-development.
Mr. Daniel was at the time delivering an address at the 5th annual OECS Credit Union Summit held at the Royal St. Kitts Marriott Resort recently under the theme “Re-engineering the OECS Credit Union System for Sustainable Development”.
He reminded the over 250 credit union officials that their strength lay in their numbers, and to re-engineer the credit union systems for sustainable development within the sub-region should not be a difficult task, since these financial institutions were owned by their members.
“Any organisation driven by its members must regard itself as having a head start. Any organisation which is grounded in the experience of the people, with its grass-root support is always supposed to be on the cutting edge of development. I charge you to use your strong support at the community level to promote and sustain social and economic development.
“Your roots can be found in the cooperative movement. I must remind you that your strength lie in your numbers. There is strength in your differences, in teamwork, collaboration, sharing of common values and the commitment to adapt to changes in your organisation,” he said.
Mr. Daniel was of the view that if there was truth that a credit union was an institution in which members pooled their assets to provide funds for loans and a variety of other financial services, then there must be a case for partnerships with NGO’s, CBO’s FBO’s and the Private Sector to tackle the needs for housing, health care, education and investment.
He stated that ownership was power and the credit unions had the capability to direct the course of events; to reduce loan delinquency and to chart a new course.
The Deputy Premier pointed out that the OECS Credit Unions had a competitive advantage since they could draw on the strength of their members, social networks and capital and thus engender new ways to compete in an increasingly uncaring world. He said that the Credit Union was being challenged to project a new image ““ that of an institution which met the financial needs of the poor and the powerless.
He added that even though the Credit Unions had increasingly offered similar services to banks, it had maintained the common touch and underscored their contributions to development.
“Despite your tremendous contribution to economic and social development, I am not satisfied that your work is being celebrated by enough people. I need to see some more of that missionary zeal, that crusading effort that led to the formation of credit unions.
“As you re-engineer, let your field work move around from door-to-door and engage people in discussion on the values of the Credit Union. Remember it is Credit Unions which made other financial institutions lend money to poor people. Your institution is rooted in the experiences of ordinary people and that is your comparative advantage as you strive for excellence,” he said.
Also addressing the gathering was Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris and President of the St. Kitts Nevis National Cooperative League, Mr. Zenhastel Hector who welcomed the delegates and invited guests. The ceremony was chaired by President of the Nevis Cooperative Credit Union, Mr. Stedroy Pemberton.
The two-day OECS Credit Union Summit was organised by the St. Kitts and Nevis Cooperative Credit Unions to allow participants to discuss issues and challenges which affected credit unions in the sub-region and to chart the way forward.