WORLD CREDIT UNION EXPERT COMES TO CATFORD TO SEE FOR HIMSELF THE ‘POWER OF COOPERATION’ -‘From Colombia to Catford’ for visit to mark International Credit Union Day

Lewisham’s scrutiny chair councillor Alan Hall today welcomed a leading representative of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Oscar Guzman to a successful joint project in Catford between Phoenix Community Housing and Lewisham Plus Credit Union (LPCU) that helps people manage their finances in difficult circumstances.

Mr Guzman is visiting to see for himself the project where in 2014 Lewisham Plus opened a new savings branch and office at Phoenix’s Green Man Community Hub in Bromley Road, Catford.

Cllr Alan Hall a Bellingham councillor and Phoenix board member said: “A successful credit union like Lewisham Plus is a real, practical example of how individuals can combine their resources to ensure that there is an alternative to traditional banks or loan sharks especially in times of austerity.”

“Over £1million worth of savings has been generated by working with Phoenix Community Housing, Lewisham Council and other housing providers. This money is available as loans to members of the Lewisham Plus Credit Union. This is the power of cooperation in the community: It can improve people’s homes, lives and their environment.

“We are delighted that Mr Guzman a leading world exponent of credit unions has come to see for himself how our joint project works. This is a visit from Colombia to Catford to learn and share the best practice from around the world. “

Mr Guzman will be visiting Phoenix and Lewisham Plus in Catford before he visits the Houses of Parliament to address the All Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions to mark International Credit Union Day on 20th October.

ENDS

Editors Notes:

Oscar Guzman
Oscar Guzman is a leading member of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and has supervised micro-finance and cooperative projects on behalf of organizations like the Bill Gates Foundation and US Aid. He is a faculty member and trainer at the Boulder Institute of Finance in New York. (For the full biography of Mr Guzman, please see below)

International Credit Union Day® – Oct. 20, 2016
The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the great work that credit unions are doing around the world and give members the opportunity to get more involve. For further information, contact Jack Van Kauwenbergh at jvankauwenbergh@woccu.org International Credit Union (ICU) Day® has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement’s history and to promote its achievements. It is a day to honour those who have dedicated their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of those working in credit unions.

Lewisham Plus Credit Union (LPCU)
Lewisham Plus Credit Union is a financial co-operative owned by its 9,000 members and founded in 1992. It is a “not for profit” organisation which offers a savings and low cost loans service to its members. Credit unions work by members saving together to create a pool of money from which low cost loans are made and any profits are reinvested. At the beginning of 2014 it opened a new branch and office at The Green Man, in Catford SE6 (on the BR1 boundary), in the new headquarters for Phoenix Community Housing Association and as part of their Community Hub.

Phoenix Community Housing
Phoenix Community Housing is a not-for-profit resident-led housing association with over 6,000 homes in the Bellingham, Whitefoot and Downham areas of Lewisham. For the past two years running it has been named in the top 10 best landlords in the UK in a poll by 24housing magazine.

Councillor Alan Hall is Chair of Lewisham Co-operative Party and Lead Non Executive Councillor on Lewisham Council. He is a Board Member of Phoenix Community Housing – which is a co-op. Cllr Alan Hall was part of the design team that planned and developed the Green Man Community hub.

Oscar Guzmán Full Biography
A financial inclusion and microfinance expert with over 20 years of experience. Oscar Guzman is currently the Representative of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) for Colombia and Ecuador, Head of the Financial Inclusion and Agricultural Micro Lending Projects under the auspices of the Banca de las Oportunidades, for the implementation of financial-inclusion methodologies/products that encompass microsavings, microcredit, value chain finance, technology and financial literacy.

He was WOCCU Rural Programs Manager, supervising projects in countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia financed by USAID, the Gates Foundation, and USDA. He was also the Project Director for consolidating savings and credit cooperatives in Ecuador, implementing microfinance products, transactional networks, training programs in microfinance, regulation and supervision, commercial, financial and expansion planning, and project evaluation methodologies. He has been Executive President and a member of the Board of Directors of the Red Transaccional Cooperativa – Coonecta and WOCCU, Services in Ecuador, the ASOF Foundation and Pagos Virtuales in Colombia. These organizations promote financial expansion to rural areas through the use of technology. He has worked with Swisscontact, IDB and Corporación Financiera Nacional (CFN) financing projects and SMEs.

Oscar Guzmán is a Commercial Engineer and holds a Masters in Finance from the Instituto Universitario de Posgrado of Spain. He has been faculty for several universities and for the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. The author of several publications on financial inclusion and an international consultant in Peru, Mexico, Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Argentina, Nicaragua, Ruanda, Uganda and Tanzania.