From the Blog

Claudia Visits Manchester

Posted by Samira Rajan @ March 23 2019
One of our Loan Officers — Claudia, from the Myrtle branch — had the opportunity to visit Manchester, England last week.  She describes her experience for us in a guest post today.
Last week I was honored to be invited as part of Inclusiv’s delegation to the annual conference of ABCUL (Association of British Credit Unions Limited) in Manchester, England. We were there to share our experiences and to learn from theirs on a variety of topics affecting financial services in underserved communities. As a loan officer I was eager to learn how credit unions there approach lending, how they are changing in the digital era, and the obstacles they face as a non-for-profit credit union.

Immediately I was impressed by the similarities shared between UK and US credit unions, including their holistic approach to lending. Although their regulation practices differ, the underlying principles are similar to ours. At the end, we are not that different from the other side!  I was happy to see how eager they were to learn how we do things in America since we have many believers in the credit union movement.

All of us (except Cathie)!
Grabbing a pint at the pub! Pictured from left are:

Ian Brewer from Bradford District CU, Manchester

Gregg Brown, Southside FCU, Chicago

Vanessa Kuduk, Members Credit Union, Connecticut

Pearl Wicks, Hope CU, Mississippi

Claudia from BCoop

One of the highlights of my experience was meeting Pearl Wicks from Hope Credit Union serving the mid-south (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas & Tennessee). She told a story that expressed how Hope CU makes a difference for their members, many of whom face the challenges of poverty, low education level, health and housing issues. Tom is a retired grandfather on fixed income. His granddaughters would play on his front porch every day after school and he worried for their safety due to the poor condition of the porch. Tom tried to obtain funding from local banks, however all his efforts were in vain, every request ended up with a denial. Through a referral, Tom joined Hope CU and took out a small loan to fix the porch. The difference between the automated approach the banks use and the more personal approach of the credit union resulted in totally different outcomes!  Both Tom and the credit union benefited.

All of us (except Cathie)!
Claudia and Pearl Wicks visiting the Beatles Story Exhibit in Liverpool, England (above). 

In her closing remarks Pearl shared a story about her daughter’s school bake sale. She explained how frustrated parents and kids were with the poor results of the sale. The principal of the school walked by and asked them what was wrong. They shared their frustration with him to which he said out loud, there is just one answer to this: Do more!

The message resonated throughout the venue. One cannot let their environment define them; if you want change you must take it upon yourself to inspire it. This is the mechanism that drives most CU’s…DO MORE!

Samira Rajan is the longest-serving employee of Brooklyn Coop and currently the Director of both the credit union and Grow Brooklyn. She started here as an Americorp*VISTA for a single year of service back when we were Bushwick Coop in 2001, got hooked by the challenge of building a community financial institution, and hasn’t left.