Peninsula Credit Union Welcomes Kenyan Colleagues for Cross-cultural Visit


David Sohelo Mategwa, Jim Morrell, and George Ombado pose for a photo during their visit on Aug. 17 in Shelton, Wash. with Peninsula Credit Union.

When Peninsula Credit Union, located in Shelton, Wash., hosted two credit union industry executives visiting recently from Kenya, the cooperative spirit of credit unions came out in full force to facilitate the sharing of information and ideas in a meeting that crossed cultures and international boundaries.

“The purpose of exchanges like this are to learn the commonalities and differences of credit unions worldwide,” said President and CEO of Peninsula CU, Jim Morrell. “Although our realities may be different, everyone has the same hopes and dreams for prosperity.”

The African Development Education Program Exchange – part of the larger Credit Union Development Education program in the United States – is helping Kenya’s Credit Union Movement get closer to reaching its own dreams of prosperity. Morrell welcomed George Ombado and David Sohelo Mategwa to the Peninsula CU headquarters for a discussion session and tour followed by a lunch meeting.

Mategwa serves as National Chairman of Kenya Police Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations and as Director of Kenyan Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives. Ombado is CEO of the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Associations (ACCOSCA).

According to Morrell, the work of the African Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (known in the United States as credit unions), parallels the work Peninsula CU is doing to improve the financial capacity of their member communities to advance economic development.

“During our visit, we were able to have a conversation about how all of us are pursuing community development by improving peoples’ financial lives,” Morrell said. “Peninsula’s focus is on serving people who are at or around a household survival budget. Our Kenyan friends compared this to the importance of their members saving money to provide for their families.”

The day’s schedule included a trip to Peninsula CU’s Belfair branch; the Kenyan executives were particularly interested in visiting a rural credit union to learn new approaches to financial capacity building, credit union operations, and strategies for strengthening their community.

“Walking into a branch, you can see that it’s all about the members. The bottom line is members. Their community involvement really stands out. Jim walks with the community,” Ombado said.

At lunch, the visitors were welcomed by local Shelton, Wash., dignitaries Mayor Bob Rogers, Deputy Mayor Deidre Peterson, and City Councilman Joe Schmit, along with the Peninsula CU Board of Directors, the Peninsula CU leadership team, and area credit union representatives.

“Everyone attending the lunch shared a common goal,” Morrell said. “Making our community stronger by helping each of our neighbors.”

As part of their visit, Ombado and Sohelo Mategwa also participated in the annual Development Educator Workshop in Bremerton, Wash., which focused on a theme of culture.

Morrell recognized Ombado and the work of ACCOSCA as well.

“The work ACCOSCA is doing to advance the Credit Union Movement in 28 countries across Africa is inspirational. The Development Educator program is helping credit unions to operate with greater safety and soundness. It also is creating positive cultural change, such as ensuring women and youth have a voice that is heard rather than shut out due to cultural norms. They are working toward greater financial inclusion, as we are here in Mason County,” Morrell said.

“George Ombado has great passion and compassion for others,” he continued. “He encourages us to think about what we’re grateful for and how we’re making a difference in peoples’ lives. Our guests were impressed at the extent of our processes. For them, the Olympic Peninsula is not rural.”

Morrell initially met Ombado and Sohelo Mategwa in 2014 through his work with the Credit Union Development Education program, participation in the Africa Development Education Program Exchange, and subsequent work with ACCOSCA.

Editor’s note: To learn more, listen to an interview on iFiberone News Radio, where George Ombado, David Sohelo Mategwa, and Jim Morrell answer questions about the similarities and differences between credit unions in the U.S. versus Africa here.

Posted in Community Impact.