First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

May 30, 2013 12:00 ET

'Life-Changing' International Co-operatives Get Helping Hand from First West Credit Union

Canada's fifth largest credit union to also host an international female credit union leader from Ghana

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 30, 2013) - First West Credit Union today announced a donation of $50,000 to the Co-operative Development Foundation (CDF) of Canada's Build a Better World campaign. This contribution is part of a $150,000 commitment to the program over three years. The initiative endeavors to raise $12 million over four years to help alleviate global poverty and support the development of co-operatives and credit unions in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Over the past 50 years, the CDF has worked in partnership with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) -an organization that First West has supported for over a decade, contributing over $305,000 to international development efforts. Complementing this financial support is First West's commitment to other CCA initiatives including its Women's Mentorship Program, and its credit union coaching program. This year, First West will be hosting Martha Kwaw, branch manageress of Shama Community Co-operative Credit Union (SHACCU) in Ghana for ten days. During this time, Martha will gain insight on loan applications and delinquency, savings mobilization, marketing and financial reporting that will make SHACCU more self-reliant.

In past years, First West leaders have travelled to Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Botswana to participate in the credit union coaching program and a women's leadership forum, sharing information and learning from co-operatives overseas. Additionally, Launi Skinner, CEO of First West Credit Union was recently joined by five other credit union CEOs on the CDF's Journey Out of Poverty tour to Cambodia. There, they spent nine days learning first-hand about poverty alleviation through cooperatives in developing countries, and to experiencing the important work that the CDF does to make the world a better place.

"The work international credit unions and cooperatives undertake in countries around the world is literally life-changing," shares Skinner. "For First West to be part of that life-change is such a privilege-whether it's leading through our financial support or mentoring support."

The Women's Mentorship Program began in 2002 after the CCA noted that there was a lack of professional development for women in African and Asia. A plan was made to connect credit union women leaders in developing countries with Canadian credit union knowledge and expertise. This year, 16 women from eight countries will be participating in this program, bringing the total number of participants to 176 women from 18 countries since the program's inception.

The First West team and its local regions strive to create vibrant communities by investing in ways that will truly make a difference in the communities where its members and employees live and work and in the communities our members care about. In 2012, First West contributed more than $1.8 million of its operating profits to local communities through scholarships, sponsorships and donations; this also includes the credit union's contributions to the First West Foundation. To encourage and acknowledge the devotion of its community investment, First West also provides paid time off to full-time employees to volunteer and assist charities.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 40 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca.

Follow First West Credit Union on Twitter: @firstwestcu

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