Paraguay Vice President Luis Federico Franco Gómez expressed his support for credit unions during a recent meeting with delegates from the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) and Central de Cooperativas del Áreas Nacional Ltda. (CENCOPAN), Paraguay's credit union association.
Gomez, a credit union member, believes strong and prosperous cooperatives are key to the country's continued economic growth, said WOCCU.
The delegation traveled to Asunción, Paraguay, to advocate on behalf of credit unions with high-level government officials and share best practices in information technology at individual credit unions. The visit was part of MnCUN and CENCOPAN's long-standing partnership under World Council's International Partnerships Program.
"Meeting with the acting president of Paraguay to discuss credit unions demonstrates the importance placed on cooperatives in the socioeconomic development of Paraguay," said delegation member Mark Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. He was joined by Jason MacDonald, Central Minnesota CU (in Melrose) director of information technology; WOCCU's Manuel Rabines, board chair; Victor Miguel Corro, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions vice president; and Michael Suing, program specialist.
Cummins said Franco, who also voiced his appreciation to World Council and MnCUN for their work in Paraguay, had tremendous knowledge of the cooperative movement.
Through their partnership, MnCUN and CENCOPAN have focused on promoting a sound regulatory environment in Paraguay to ensure the safety and security of credit union members' funds. In the first of a series of government visits, the delegation met with representatives from the Instituto Nacional de Cooperativismo (INCOOP), the national regulator of Paraguay, to discuss the business model of credit unions and how their focus on community and social development calls for a distinct set of regulations.
The delegation also met with Humberto Blasco Gavilán, Paraguay's minister of justice and labor, to discuss credit union contributions in the country. The visit underlined the role of Paraguay's credit unions in generating employment and spurring community development and economic empowerment.
"Importantly, the coordinated meetings with Paraguayan government officials served to strengthen and solidify the credit union movement there," Rabines said.
Another goal of the international exchange was to build confidence in information technology systems and convince credit unions that technology is a prudent investment. MacDonald spoke at CENCOPAN's annual seminar about the importance of credit unions investing in technology, while Cummins underscored the importance of sound regulation through a presentation on the U.S. regulatory environment. More than 150 credit union representatives from Paraguay attended the seminar.
"World Council's active presence in Paraguay is of tremendous benefit to the Paraguayan credit union movement," said Pedro Loblein, CENCOPAN board chair. "Government officials in Paraguay recognize the benefits of CENCOPAN's partnership with the Minnesota Credit Union Network and the advantages of being connected to World Council and the U.S. credit union movement."
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