CFF urges Credit Unions and Non-Financial Cooperatives to take action in face of COVID-19 challenges

Chaguanas, Trinidad – March 19, 2020: President of the Central Finance Facility (CFF), the Financial and Developmental Institution of the local Cooperative Movement, Ms. Letitia Telesford is calling on Cooperative Leaders to fully embrace and exemplify the co-operative principle of “Co-operation among Co-operatives” and craft holistic mechanisms to empower members to overcome the sudden and significant negative economic impact of COVID-19.

COVID 19 presents a multifaceted attack on the wellbeing and way of lives of cooperative members. At the national level, Credit Unions non-financial cooperatives are better off dealing with this crisis collectively rather than individually.” said Telesford.

Revealing that the CFF, representing the Credit Union Movement, has been in discussions with a key Minister of one of the Cabinet appointed COVID-19 Committees, Telesford said that the Credit Union Movement has the responsibility to take the lead in bringing its membership through this crisis.

The strength of the Credit Union Movement comes from its membership. It derives from the fact that many ‘ordinary people’ have pooled their resources and entrusted these resources to leaders, so that they, the members, can survive and succeed in these trying times. This community and mutual caring philosophy is needed now more than ever.”

President Telesford reported that, in response to a request by the Minister on the Task Force to provide possible strategies that can alleviate the expected social and economic hardships from COVID-19, the CFF presented the following:

  • The Establishment of a Government-backed Loan Guarantee Program that will provide financing to members who are unable to meet their day to day living expenses due to loss of salaries / wages from employment or reduced business income as a result of COVID-19.

  • A joint initiative that will reduce the cost of funds to credit unions and make loans more affordable to members.

  • A joint initiative with Government that will enable micro, small and medium sized enterprises to procure, promote and sell products and services online and deliver these products and services within the prescribed guidelines of social distancing.

  • Financial and non-financial cooperatives can expand access (temporarily) to their commercial products and services to members of other cooperatives.

  • CFF can establish a database of member-owned businesses which the State and all Co-operatives can access for the purchase of goods and services.

While President Telesford welcomed Government’s stated intentions to collaborate with the Credit Union Movement, she remains convinced that Credit Unions must be proactive in developing these initiatives. Credit Unions are trusted and have an excellent track record in assessing and facilitating the financial needs of its members. The Movement is ideally placed to provide the personalized and tailored support to members at this time.

Telesford is urging that the Movement not wait on government to act but be proactive in developing urgent solutions for its members and allow the Government the opportunity to join it in its member empowerment initiatives.