Chaguanas, Trinidad – May 4, 2020: The Central Finance Facility (CFF) launched its first ever Virtual Thought Leadership Series on April 22, 2020. The four (4) part weekly series is themed “Credit Unions Weathering the COVID-19 Crisis” and features experts in the areas of management, human resources, finance, investment and mental health. Via the Zoom Online Video Conferencing platform the CFF has been able to engage its members in discussion on the issues which have been engendered by the current COVID-19 pandemic. To date, over 60 participants from over 11 credit unions have participated in these virtual meetings.
In part one (1) of the series, Human Resources Managers Krystal Mark of VENTURE Credit Union and Rowan Bartolo of Eastern Credit Union—two of the largest credit unions in Trinidad and Tobago— addressed the topic “The effects on our workforce, working remotely and effects on our members”. Both speakers examined the impact of the current stay-at-home measures on their credit unions–workforce and membership. Both managers shared the unique yet similar experiences of how their organisations were treating with the immediate changes within the workplace. This ranged from physical security mechanisms such as plexiglass to safeguard frontline personnel and the development of policy documents with protocols for implementing remote working. Branch Supervisor (San Fernando) for Works Credit Union, Dana Pelchier highlighted the impact on members who visit credit union branches and the subsequent effect on branch staff.
The series continued with part two (2) on April 29, 2020 featuring Economist, Dr. Patrick Kent Watson and National Gas Company (NGC) Chairman, Mr. Conrad Enill who discussed the current global recession and its impacts on the local economy and the credit union movement. Dr. Watson emphasised that this COVID-19 period is an excellent juncture for credit unions to “rebuild perspective and start from ground up.” He emphasized the necessity to make pertinent changes which will give future generations a higher success rate in preparation and management for disasters such as these. Mr. Enill stressed on the need for the credit unions to not solely focus on the “‘traditional’ savings mobilisation” but rather “wealth creation” for its membership, as the credit union movement has to be the “new private sector”.
The Virtual Thought Leadership Series continues with two (2) more sessions on May 6 and May 13, 2020 on the topics “Issues Credit Unions, banking and Capital markets may face” and “Coping mechanisms” respectively. It is the intent of the CFF to use the contributions made at these forums to develop mechanisms which will position credit unions to not become victims to the economic onslaught of COVID-19 but rather “rise from the ashes like a phoenix.”
The Central Finance Facility reaffirms its comittment to supporting the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. In its position as a facilitator and thought leader, the CFF recognizes forums such as these as imminent to assist the credit union movement in navigating through and post COVID-19.