My Fellow Citizens and Residents,
It is my distinct pleasure to come to the nation this year, as Minister of Co-operatives, to inform the people of St. Kitts and Nevis about what will surely be another successful staging of Credit Union Week.
Credit Union Week 2019 runs from Sunday, October 13th to Saturday, October 19th. As usual, the week of activities will coincide with International Credit Union Day, which is being celebrated this coming Thursday, October 17th under the theme Local Service. Global Reach.
This is a perfect theme because International Credit Union Day has been held on the third Thursday of October since 1948 to celebrate the spirit of the now 260 million-member strong global credit union movement – a thriving movement that continues to add members at a record pace due to its strong focus on serving the greater good by enabling broad economic empowerment.
Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, the credit union movement is strong and growing.
At present, the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-operative League – the umbrella organization for the local credit union movement – has four affiliate members. They are Nevis Co-operative Credit Union Limited; St. Kitts Co-operative Credit Union Limited; Police Co-operative Credit Union (St. Christopher and Nevis) Limited, and FND Enterprise Cooperative Credit Union Limited – the latter of which recently had a name change to First Federal Cooperative Credit Union Limited.
Together they comprise a membership of more than 27,500, with assets amounting to EC $378.8 million, savings (reflected by Shares & Deposits) amounting to EC $313.3 million, and loans amounting to EC $258.3 million as at December 31st, 2018.
This represents a growth in assets, savings and loans by more than 11 percent, more than 12 percent, and more than 9 percent, respectively, over the previous year.
The local credit union movement has also seen a more than 10 percent growth in membership – a remarkable accomplishment achieved in no small part due to its annual week of activities, which raises awareness of the good work that the affiliate members are doing.
Examples of their good work includes the 9th annual St. Kitts Co-operative Credit Union’s Melvin Edwards Excellence Awards Ceremony taking place on Wednesday, October 16th.
Each year, the Melvin Edwards Excellence Awards Ceremony recognizes the top three students in the Test of Standards Examination administered to Grade Six students. On behalf of the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis, I extend hearty congratulations to 1st Place Winner, Alisha Jalim of Saddlers Primary School; 2nd Place Winner, Hannah Williams of the Seventh-Day Adventist Primary School, and 3rd Place Winner, Tahlise Connor of St. Paul’s Primary School.
The awards ceremony is named for Mr. Melvin Edwards CSM, a recipient of the Companion Star of Merit, one of the highest civilian honours our country bestows on its sons and daughters.
Mr. Edwards, who is an inductee in the African-American Credit Union Hall of Fame, co-founded the St. Kitts Co-operative Credit Union in 1982. Between 1974 and 1981, he served as Director of Youth and Community Development. This was an excellent foundation that helped catapult the local credit union movement to become a reliable facilitator of youth and community development.
In a nod to its past as well as its present and future as a conduit for young people to achieve their dreams, the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-operative League will hold a Youth Symposium at Garvey’s Estate in Palmetto Point, St. Kitts.
The Youth Symposium is scheduled for Thursday, October 24th, from 8:00am to 5:00pm, on the heels of Credit Union Week. Over 70 secondary school students from across the Federation are set to participate in five sessions centred on The Credit Union Movement, Building a Personal Brand, Managing Finances, Starting a Business, and Using Technology. The sessions will be moderated by young leaders, as well as leaders within the credit union industry.
Such educational forums are why the not-for-profit credit union sector is known for promoting financial literacy – the ultimate goal being to develop meaningful long-term relationships with a wide range of members through outstanding customer service.
It is this emphasis on service that will be on full display when the approximately 100 full-time employees in the credit union sector and the executive and management team of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-operative League mark Credit Union Week. The week of activities opens with worship at the Zion Moravian Church in St. Kitts at 9:30am and the Shiloh Baptist Church in Nevis at 11:00am.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the members and staff of the credit union sector on celebrating another annual week of activities with a slate of engaging events that will educate the public to be well-informed and responsible financial consumers. This emphasis on education is what makes Credit Union Week the perfect complement to Financial Information Month, which is observed every October in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union as designated by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank with the goal of Financial Empowerment Through Education.
I encourage the public to tune in to local media during the coming week for airdates and times regarding talk show appearances by representatives of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-operative League. These media appearances are sure to be informative and wide-ranging, and will also provide a great opportunity to increase the public’s awareness of credit unions.
I also commend the St. Kitts and Nevis National Co-operative League for its stellar performance and wish it continued success in putting its members on a firm financial footing.
It is my honour and privilege to declare Credit Union Week 2019 officially open.