We all know growing the credit union movement takes a lot of time, commitment and hard work. But some dedicated professionals simply can’t get enough.
Instead of using vacation time to take what most of us consider to be much-needed breaks, Rachael Reiling and Shana Richardson use their PTO to help grow the movement in developing nations—all on their own dime.
Reiling, who serves as the director of business development for SPIRE Credit Union in Falcon Heights, MN, is spending nearly all of September helping credit unions in The Philippines—including some Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) Sister Societies based there.
While many of the Philippines’ Sister Societies are still in their infancy, they requested Rachael to work with their leaders using the toolkit for starting a Sister Society chapter. They would like to focus on empowering their sisters through professional development activities to move into leadership roles in their career. They would also like to have a structured system in place for giving back to their local communities.
Along with those engagement efforts, Rachael is also delivering presentations at local financial cooperatives and at NATCCO—the Philippines’ network for co-ops. Her goal is to teach local leaders at those institutions about credit unions in the U.S. Additionally, her presentation focuses on specific success stories and best practices of SPIRE Credit Union.
“The cooperative leaders in The Philippines have offered a level of hospitality I have not experienced before. It’s clear to see how proud they are of their culture, their history, their faith and the co-op movement. I feel like a celebrity here. Everyone is so eager to meet me and learn about American credit unions,” said Reiling.
For Shana Richardson, CEO of the financial services technology company Ser Tech, an April 2019 volunteer trip to Bangkok, Thailand focused on helping credit unions grow their business development services—specifically for unemployed women and youth members.
Joining forces with Elenita San Roque, CEO of the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions, Richardson helped launch an effort to create a “Business Development Center” model each credit union could institutionalize. It would allow them to help members engage in viable business enterprises to raise them out of poverty.
To establish that model, Shana helped conduct training sessions aimed at teaching credit union leaders how to advise unemployed women and youth members on starting and growing their businesses through planning, operational improvement, and product or market development.
“By providing training through the Business Development Center, emerging entrepreneurs learn not only about business basics—but also how socially responsible and sustainable business models can improve their lives, as well as those in their community,” said Richardson.
For both Shana and Rachael, “people helping people” isn’t just a credit union mantra or a company line, it’s a way of life—whether they’re getting paid or not.