Representatives from three financial cooperatives in Latin America shared insights on how they are empowering young people through education and engagement during the final session of the 2020 WYCUP Virtual Forum held on Friday, July 24.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on youth around the world: interrupting the school year, reducing social contact and eliminating employment opportunities in many communities. However, Friday’s speakers shared perspectives on how financial cooperatives can redefine their relationship with young people with a focus on professional development and engagement. Three credit unions shared international perspectives on their efforts: Sicredi in Brazil, Colombia’s Comultrasan and Coocique in Costa Rica.
Sicredi, the largest credit union system in Brazil and a World Council direct member, has been actively involved in creating young ambassadors for their financial cooperatives. Sicredi Youth Committees combine financial and cooperative education with professional development, entrepreneurship and community development activities. Andrei Alves, a manager at Sicredi, noted how youth have been empowered by involving them directly in local community development projects.
Coocique, a credit union in Costa Rica, established the Nueva Generación (New Generation) initiative to encourage youth involvement. This leadership program is changing lives by expanding leadership opportunities for young people and providing them with a voice within the credit union. William Morris, a representative from Coocique, explained how Nueva Generación has increased youth participation in cooperative governance through leadership development that provides practical experience while expanding service to members.
One credit union in Colombia has made a significant financial commitment to expanding educational opportunities for young people. Financiera Comultrasan is expanding opportunities for young leaders through financial support for a local technical school, reducing tuition costs by nearly half for the marginalized communities served. The school encourages entrepreneurship and creativity through an engaging curriculum.
These inspiring stories from the three credit unions highlighted the importance of engaging with young people—and empowering them to make a difference. For credit unions facing a crisis of relevance with young people, this is a powerful opportunity for financial cooperatives to lead economic renewal and renovation post-COVID-19 through youth empowerment.