The last time credit union representatives met in person at the Asian Credit Union Forum was in 2019 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Then, the Berjaya Times Square Hotel was abuzzed with excitement as international delegates gathered at insightful plenaries, which covered topics on “good governance”, “inclusivity” and “technology”, and gleaned beneficial takeaways. But, alas, plans to host the Forum again in 2020 was put on hold as the pandemic upended operations everywhere.
Some two years later, many nations have since gained a foothold against Covid-19 and started opening their borders; the highly anticipated Forum also returned to host delegates physically and this time at Thailand’s bustling capital, Bangkok.
Taking place from 29 August to 1 September, the 2022 Asian Credit Union Forum saw over 340 credit union representatives from all over the world attending, and covered salient trends and themes for the credit unions.
The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) delegation of 12 members, included SNCF’s deputy chairman and credit co-operative sector head Mr Yeo Chun Fing, SNCF’s EXCO member and chairperson of the Singapore Government Staff Credit Cooperative Society (SGS) Mr John Raghavan and SNCF’s chief executive officer Mr Ang Hin Kee. The other Singapore delegates hail from Citiport Credit Co-operative Limited, POLWEL Co-operative Society Limited, and SGS – all renowned credit co-operatives in Singapore.
Organised by the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), and co-hosted by the Credit Union League of Thailand and the Federation of Savings and Credit Cooperatives of Thailand (FSCT). This year’s theme is ‘Greener, Inclusive, Resilient Patch to Covid-19 Recovery’, and called for co-operative members to act on pressing issues brought about by the pandemic and climate change. The conference this year was also held in conjunction with FSCT’s 50th Anniversary.
Across the four-day conference, a total of seven plenaries and nine breakout sessions took place, with attendees spanning from 16 other countries. They revitalised the role credit unions play in combating the impacts of climate change, intergenerational participation and how best to navigate the post-Covid-19 landscape.
“The pandemic has pushed many into poverty and deprivation,” says ACCU’s chief executive officer Leni San Roque in her opening speech, where she also highlighted four significant world challenges, namely poverty, conflict, climate change and Covid-19, affecting humankind. She adds: “These experiences must have moved us by now, that we should be very grateful for our lives and that we should make a difference to add value to others.”
More importantly, the 2022 Asian Credit Union Forum offered ample opportunities for co-operative members to share about the lessons learned from the pandemic. At a plenary discussion 'Outlook of Asian Credit Union Movement Post Covid-19', panelists highlighted how credit co-operatives should focus on business sustainability moving forward. While in another session ‘Digital transformation: the present and future roadmap of credit unions’, Tony, an IT Manager from Puskopcuina Indonesia, shared that the digitalisation of financial services cannot be avoided. He said: “Only financial services that are able to adapt to people’s expectations can survive.”
Beyond the insightful sharing sessions, the Singapore delegates also had opportunities to meet with members from other credit unions. Attendees also embarked on the Chao Phraya Princess Cruise on one of the evenings and visited several credit unions based in Thailand.
On 31 August, ACCU held their 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) where the leaders from all countries were invited. During the AGM, all voting delegates had to cast their vote for the new board of directors to serve for the next two years. Five new directors were elected while Mr Kim Younsik remains as the president for ACCU till 2024.
It was also announced that the next Asia Credit Union Forum will be hosted in Nepal from September 14 to September 16, 2023.
By Lisa Chan
Lisa Chan is a relationship manager of the Youth and Women Division in SNCF.