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Connexus : Issue 39
www.abacus.org.au 7 Track record CUFA’s commitment to Australia’s neighbours in the Pacific and SE Asia is achieving great results. Australian mutuals have a proud record of investing in communities. For more than 30 years our industry has extended this commitment to communities in the Pacific and South East Asian region through CUFA (www.cufa.com.au). CUFA’s work is a powerful example of “people helping people” – one of the principles on which credit unions and building societies were founded. Established by credit unions in the late 1970s to bring access to affordable financial services and help draw communities out of poverty, CUFA today operates projects in Timor Leste, Cambodia, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Myanmar. Abacus and its members support CUFA’s work in a range of ways, through donations, in-kind support, fundraising, participation in study tours, challenges and sharing experience and technical expertise. CUFA is an AUSAID-accredited development agency and has been recognised globally for its results and transparency. This year has already been busy for CUFA and a good example of the reach of its work and partnerships with Abacus members. Earlier in the year, a dozen intrepid staff from Australian mutuals took part in the Fiji Leadership Challenge. The group participated in an open-sea kayak challenge as well as working with local credit unions and the Oceanic League. The team also raised more than $57,000 as part of the challenge, funds which will be invested directly in Pacific projects to build technical capacity in local mutuals. Soon after, CUFA brought its Board and staff from its various projects together for an intensive program of training and strategic planning in Cambodia. As a CUFA director I was privileged to spend time with the enthusiastic and dedicated project staff whose commitment to their region and getting the most out of every CUFA dollar was energising and impressive. The Board was fortunate to be able to meet with participants in CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur Program, which supports small business members of savings groups in some of Cambodia’s poorest rural regions. We also visited a local credit union that operates in 39 isolated villages from a head office built with contributions from Encompass Credit Union. CUFA’s Cambodian programs include a financial literacy initiative funded from challenges similar to the Fiji example. These programs run in remote regions and bring the concept of saving (and the miracle of compound interest!) to children enthusiastic and eager to learn and build a better future for themselves and their families. CUFA’s programs are a reminder of how critical it is that mutual banking gains the respect it deserves and builds its relevance and unity to expand its reach. This edition of connexus tackles some big and difficult issues for Australian mutuals – critical issues like the Basel III framework and its impact on our industry, new products and ideas to improve marketing and services to members, and industry performance. This edition also marks the launch of an iPad edition of the magazine. We are hoping to bring more updates through this sparkly new toy and would really welcome your feedback by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org Seeing the difference that your support for CUFA makes has provided me with a great start to the year – fresh energy from an industry that really “walks the talk” in its values and principles. It ’s also a nice reminder of just how much mutuals can achieve by working together and staying the course, no matter how small the start. I have every confidence that by drawing on these strengths Australian credit unions, building societies and mutual banks will make 2012 a year of ambition and achievement for mutuals. Abacus looks forward to working with you to achieve this goal. louise Petschler, CEO, abacus CEO comment This edition marks the launch of a new iPad app. We are hoping to bring more updates through the app and welcome your feedback.