In this guest post Hector Montano, Operations Manager of our Beacon Hill Branch, talks about his recent trip to Guatemala made possible by the International Credit Union Leadership Program.

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the International Credit Union Leadership Program, which is a cultural exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the World Council of Credit Unions. The exchange involved ten credit union employees from across the United States participating in an internship in the country of Guatemala.

I partnered with Cooperativa Coban, a credit union located in the province of Halta de la Paz, Guatemala. One of the exciting things that they are doing involves micro loans to women. The loans range in amounts from 400 Quetzals ($50) to 2,000 Quetzals ($250). Luis, the local loan officer at Cooperative Coban, worked to implement this program. Once the loans have been approved, the women visit the credit union, sign or thumb print signature the loan documents, and then obtain their cash from the teller.

Most of the women do not speak Spanish, but speak the local indigenous language of Kek’chi. Through interpreters, we were able to understand that this micro credit group had grown from just a few women to roughly 16 members. They use the loans to purchase and raise livestock, which they later sell in the local markets. Below are some pictures of the incredible impact that Cooperativa Coban is having on its members.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating International Credit Union Day on October 18th, 2012, and recognizing the difference credit unions are making worldwide. Read more about cooperatives at stories.coop.

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Melina Young

My name is Melina Young and I am the director of marketing at Verity Credit Union. I love everything to do with marketing, advertising, public relations and social media – especially all the research that goes into making a product or service really work for our members and making sure the right people hear about it. In addition to my time spent marketing, I have a blog and write about celiac disease, which I was diagnosed with in 2010. Basically, I can’t eat any of those foods we all love that are made with wheat, barley or rye.

I have also recently started running and completed my first 5k in 2011. Some people may not know that I used to do a lot of acting, dancing and singing in my life. I was in a Nike commercial with Gary Payton in junior high (if anyone ever finds the footage please send it my way!) and I used to compete as an opera singer in high school. I almost majored in musical theater in college, but I’m very glad with my decision to study marketing!

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