From the Northwest to South Korea: Credit Unions Come Together to Build Bridges

In another impressive display of the global Credit Union Movement’s cooperative strength, four credit unions from the Northwest United States have teamed up to build relationships with counterparts in Asia.

In collaboration with Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WF), the charitable and engagement arm of World Council of Credit Unions, Unitus has teamed up with Advantis Credit Union, Oregon Community Credit Union, and Rivermark Community Credit Union to develop an innovative engagement initiative with South Korea’s National Credit Union Federation of Korea through the Global Bridges program.

Global Bridges offers credit union professionals the opportunity to grow their perspective, share knowledge, foster friendships, and gain a greater understanding of current challenges credit unions face globally.

“The Credit Union Movement provides financial independence to people who don’t traditionally have the opportunity to save money, start a business, or afford their basic needs,” said Steve Stapp, President and CEO of Unitus and former World Council Chair. “The Global Bridges program is an exciting opportunity to strengthen our communities around the world.”

Delegates shared their first virtual engagement session on July 27 and will attend several more in 2021.

“Advantis is very excited about the opportunity to learn from our Korean credit union peers, who are part of one of the five largest credit union networks in the world,” added Jason Werts, President and CEO at Advantis. “By gaining a global, more diverse perspective of the cooperative finance model, we are able to find new ways to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our members, our employees, and the communities we serve.”

In 2022, a Korean delegation will visit the United States in person while an American delegation visits South Korea, pending the state of COVID-19-related concerns at that time. In this — the first iteration of the Worldwide Foundation’s “Global Bridges” program — Unitus will send the following staff members as representatives: Assistant Project Manager Kat Popovich, IT Operations Manager Kevin Smith, and Senior Member Support Specialist Alec Shumway.

“The opportunity to listen and learn with local and international industry peers is a competitive advantage that is worth celebrating,” said Seth Schaefer, President and CEO of Rivermark. “We are looking forward to the conversations and engagement.”

Ron Neumann, President and CEO of Oregon Community, echoed this sentiment.

“Having the opportunity to participate in a program that extends the unique collaborative nature of credit unions across the world is very exciting,” said Neumann. “We look forward to sharing with and learning from the South Korean credit union system, with the hope of all participants coming away with new ideas on how to best support our members.”

Posted in CU Movement.