With the release of Cufa’s 50th History book, we want to highlight some fascinating and key moments from Cufa’s history. Whilst we have some great stories from our work in Bougainville, Cambodia or Myanmar, we want to share a little-known part of Cufa’s history. In 1993, the World Conference on Credit Unions invited Cufa to look into reviving the dormant Credit Union movement in Russia. Having recently transitioned from the Soviet Union, there was renewed interest in Credit Unions to provide local financial stability.
Cufa assembled a team from Australian Credit Unions to visit the Kuzbass region in Siberia, one of the largest coal mining regions in the world. The representatives visited mines and factories, speaking with workers and residents about the effectiveness of credit unions. Following this, Cufa invited representatives from the communities they visited to come to Australia and visit four member coal and related industries Credit Unions in NSW
The relationship between Cufa and the Russian Credit Unions continued, with records showing that Cufa and the Russian Credit Unions continued to have a colorful dialogue, following returning to Australia, including a friendly debate over whether Australian or Russian alcohol was better.
The 12th Russian Credit Union Forum was held in the beautiful Russian resort city, Sochi from 23rd May – 25th May, 2018. Hosted by the Russian Credit Union League (RCUL), this year’s theme was Credit Cooperation is 25: Achievements, Experience and Potential for Development.
Both Cufa’s Chair Margot Sweeny and Cufa’s CEO Dr. Peter Mason have previously attended the Russian Credit Union Forum. This year, Cufa sponsored Michael Koisen from the Papua New Guinea credit union movement to speak at the forum. As the CEO of Teachers Savings and Loan Society in Papua New Guinea, and with over 30 years’ experience in the savings and loans industry, Michael shared his valuable insight into the regulation challenges faced by credit unions.
While being honored to give the opening address, Michael Koisen said of the forum, "The Russian Credit Union Industry has had stops and starts, pre and post Soviet Union and is going through what I would term as a revitalization. There seems to be a mixture of heavy handed and absent regulation driven by a mixture of variables including GFC, distrust, a lack of capacities due to fragmentation and inadequate regulatory resources across a vast geography. There is a huge potential for growth once they get past their teething phase. There are some similar experiences and close similarities to Credit Union development and evolution in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific."
The Russian Credit Union Forum is a platform for discussion of sector development, issues facing by credit cooperatives, including regulation and self-regulation, financial sustainability, new ideas and technologies
Cufa’s history with the RCUL dates back to its induction in 1994. Cufa and RCUL continue to connect as both organisations contribute towards cooperative development around the world.