A delegation from NCBA CLUSA headquarters traveled to Guatemala late last month to meet with project staff, local government officials and organizations NCBA CLUSA works with under our current Creating an Enabling Environment for Cooperative Expansion activity funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Cooperative Development Program.
The delegation included Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA; Jacqueline Bass, Vice President of Business Development at NCBA CLUSA; and Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, Director of NCBA CLUSA’s Strengthening Cooperatives and Producer Organizations Practice Area. Representing NCBA CLUSA in country were Juan Carlos Marenco, Country Representative and Director of CDP/CECE Guatemala; Manuel Contreras, Director of the Co-op Business School in Guatemala; and Gustavo Guzmán, Finance and Administration Coordinator.
While in country, the group met separately with Guatemalan Vice President Guillermo Castillo Reyes, Vice Minister of Economy Fernando Escalante, and representatives from USAID Guatemala to discuss activities under CDP/CECE. NCBA CLUSA delegates also met with Congressman César Fión, head of the Congressional Commission on Cooperatives and NGOs, to examine NCBA CLUSA’s role in updating Guatemala’s current cooperative legislation, which is strong, but more than 40 years old.
The delegation also visited the National Federation of Credit Unions FENACOAC/MICOOPE’s headquarters to discuss current and future collaboration to advance financial and social inclusion in Guatemala.
Later, NCBA CLUSA U.S. delegates and the CDP Guatemala team traveled to Santa Cruz del Quiché to sign an MOU with the Guatemalan Migrant Cooperative Credit Union (Cooperativa del Migrante de Guatemala, or COMIGUA). Together with a growing number of similar cooperatives across Guatemala and in partnership with organizations like Migrant Platform and Mission Guatemala USA (Misión Guatemala USA, or MIGUSA), this migrant family co-op brings together Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. to funnel remittances toward community economic development.
Guatemalans in the U.S. send up to $18 billion per year back to their families in the country, and there is an increased interest in using these critical resources to improve the livelihoods of their families and communities, with the aim of reducing migration and family separation.
The COMIGUA visit included a traditional Mayan ceremony at the ruins of an ancient temple designed to wish success to the cooperative recently established with NCBA CLUSA support.
Reaffirmed over decades of partnership and solidarity, NCBA CLUSA’s most recent visit to Guatemala strengthens our commitment to the social and economic development of Guatemalan communities—particularly indigenous communities. Working collaboratively with our local partners to strengthen Guatemala’s economy, and ultimately extending financial inclusion to underserved populations, is the most effective strategy to meet this shared goal.
Together with cooperative organizations such as FENACOAC/MICOOPE’s credit unions—who serve some 3 million members in Guatemala—and MIGUSA’s innovations in remittance use and networks, NCBA CLUSA will continue to invest in and work toward inclusive, sustainable and locally driven economic development in Guatemala.