CUs' Co-Op Structure Discussed

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WASHINGTON-During a session at the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) conference here panelists agreed that credit unions' cooperative structure provides them with unique opportunities to connect agricultural processes with economic growth, thereby addressing two key issues in global development.

As a result, greater efforts should be made to foster credit union growth to better address this need, said the panelists participating in the one-day "Cooperatives: Meeting Development Challenges of the 21st Century" meeting. Attendees hailed from Bosnia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Sri Lanka, as well as the U.S. WOCCU was represented by Suresh Wijesinghe, deputy director of WOCCU's program in Sri Lanka, who stressed the value and positive economic impact of the agricultural lending program in the lives of members of Sri Lanka's Women's Co-operative Development Society, known as Women's Co-op.

"Women's Co-op members are improving their lives through the credit union's services, from group lending to insurance to health and education services," Wijesinghe said. "The agricultural lending program is being rolled out on a pilot basis in four of the branches, with the plan to expand to all 121 branches so that all members can benefit."

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