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Falkland Islands Seek U.S. Guidance for Establishing CU Framework
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 6:50 AM

Dwayne Naylor, chief operating officer of Local Government CU in Raleigh, N.C., USA, travelled to the Falkland Islands April 14 to 19 to assist the Falkland Islands Development Corporation with establishing a sustainable credit union framework for its citizens. Naylor was on assignment for World Council of Credit Unions.  

One bank branch currently operates on the Falkland Islands, yet residents find it difficult to access credit. The government established the Development Corporation to provide financing to island businesses that have been refused bank financing. In addition to accessing financial services, islanders wanted to share ownership of a "bank" with the same voting rights as any other shareholder. They had heard positive things about North American credit unions and requested World Council assistance to introduce credit unions in the Falkland Islands.  

Naylor reviewed the necessary legislative framework and explained the credit union model to interested citizens and local authorities. Naylor assessed local infrastructure, information systems and professional staff capacity and requirements to provide savings, consumer lending, transaction services, remittances, international transfer services and business lending.  

Despite keen local interest, the Falkland Islands' small population remains a challenge to credit union sustainability. With just 2,300 working-age islanders, Naylor and Development Corporation staff considered whether a credit union could be sustainable without possibility to achieve scale.  

"The Falklands' economy is changing rapidly," Naylor explained. "Increased access to a credit union will be in the community's interest to grow."  

The team continues to review alternative information communication technology strategies for cloud-based back-office processing and mobile services on the island.  

"We knew this would be a challenge from the start when the Development Corporation approached us," said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO, "but we remain optimistic that in today's world, credit unions can provide an empowering solution for this community as well."