World Council Begins Laying Groundwork For Credit Union Role In Rebuilding Iraq

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The World Council of Credit Unions is working with Iraqi-Americans to discuss how credit unions could be part of the rebuilding of that country.

Because the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and similar organizations have yet to announce plans to provide financial assistance to Iraq, much less allocated specific dollar amounts to that end, WOCCU said any proposal to seed a credit union movement in Iraq or other means by which the world's CUs might be able to assist the war- torn country are still very much in the air.

"We are anticipating that there will be some sort of foreign assistance program for Iraq, and we are getting ready to put together proposals for how credit unions can be part of this," said WOCCU Marketing and Communications Officer Kimberly Johnson. "But that's still quite far off in the future. We can't put together any sort of proposal of our own until they decide how much financial assistance they will provide."

Nevertheless, in order to be ready if and when the time comes, WOCCU has put out a call to credit union officials who may have lived or worked in Iraq in the past, are of Iraqi descent and-or speak Arabic.

WOCCU recently submitted a proposal for a pilot credit union program in Afghanistan and should hear back on the fate of that proposal in the next two months, Johnson added.

One of the issues credit unions face when they seek to serve Muslim populations is the religious restriction on the charging or paying of interest, but there are still ways for CUs to serve members of this faith.

Pioneer Muslim CU of Houston is just one example of a credit union that has found a way to reach out and serve members of the Islamic faith here in the U.S.

"We do have credit unions in the Philipines that serve largely Muslim populations," Johnson noted. "We are also in Uzbekistan, which is also largely Muslim."

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