Cooperatives in Puerto Rico gain access to opportunities to invest in their communities
SAN JUAN – The executive director of the Cooperative Executives Association (ASEC by its Spanish acronym), José Julián Ramírez, announced that dozens of credit unions were holding meetings during a training session to obtain certification granted by the Financial Institutions Office for the Community Development Fund Initiative (CDFI), with the objective of strengthening the coop’s work in favor of their community’s economic development.
The certification provides access to financial resources, both private and federal, to support the economic development promoted by cooperatives in their communities.
Under the theme “Exploring a new role for the financial cooperative system,” the National Federation of Credit Cooperatives for Community Development (NFCDCU) offers the island’s 116 savings & loan cooperatives the possibility of accessing more funds for investment, Ramírez explained.
“Receiving the CDFI certification will provide a great impetus for credit unions to continue doing the work they have been doing for decades,” said Cathie Mahon, chief executive officer of the NFCDCU.
Recently, the Federal Reserve authorized banks to make contributions to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), in support of recovery efforts by the U.S. islands hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“That the CDFI Fund and the NFCDCU are providing this training in Puerto Rico is a recognition of the social functions of our cooperatives and the potential we have in economic development, especially in this process of reconstruction that the country is experiencing,” said the ASEC executive director.
The Federation of Credit Coops is an organization that supports and invests in savings & loans cooperatives with the mission of providing services to low-income communities or groups unattended by traditional financial systems, such as for stateside and Puerto Rico Latino/a communities.
It foments that the cooperative system provide financial education, savings and microenterprise development among vulnerable populations, a task that is carried out by ASEC members through the 116 cooperative branches in Puerto Rico.
The training was supported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the CDFI Fund, BanCoop, the New York Credit Union Association, Citi, CMG, Vancity and ASEC.