BUSINESS MONDAY - ‘be on your guard’
That’s the advice thrown out to local credit unions in the face of threats to disrupt their operations.
The advice has come from a leading credit unionist, Adlai Stevenson, who is urging the movement to ensure that gains made are not snatched up by competitive forces moving to exclude credit unions from expanding their services.
Stevenson, the President of the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union Limited (COB), gave the warning on Friday evening at the relaunch and rebranding of Reliance Credit Union.
He said that people helping people underpins what is done in the movement and why it is done.
“We do not answer to shareholders in other territories or regions for a bigger dividend to be exported,” the COB official said. He recalled that the Central Bank of Barbados in its 2018 Financial Stability Report indicated that credit union assets grew 9.5 per cent to reach $2.42 billion last year.
That was in addition to a loan portfolio which expanded 4.2 per cent, outpacing commercial banks, trust and finance companies. At the same time, statistics demonstrate the importance of credit unions in Barbados’ economic space and the critical role they play for approximately 206 000 members.
“We must constantly review our strategies and take action to stay relevant and generate value for our membership,” Stevenson remarked.
The credit union movement in Barbados has voiced concerns about the likelihood that they could be disadvantaged if the commercial banks opt out of the CarIFS system.
Previously known as the Barbados Media Cooperative Credit Union – which was launched in 1983 – the institution was rebranded as Reliance Cooperative Credit Union Limited. It will be operating from improved premises on Fontabelle.
It has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the COB which, among other things, provide for COB’s assistance in the event that it is unable meet loans of up $250 000.
“Our boards saw the immediate value of a loan participation agreement and are confident that this augurs well for our membership, and by extension for the future and the security of our country,” the COB President pointed out.
“We at the COB find tremendous significance in your efforts at rebranding and retooling,” said Stevenson, noting that, like Reliance, COB was also established in 1983.
“As your credit union started out of a need to provide financing options to staff members who previously utilised pay day loans, we too got started when our founding members recognised the need to help in a meaningful way,” he stated.