Portland Co-Operative Credit Union Limited 50th Anniversary

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2021 2 PORTLAND CO-OP CREDIT UNION 50TH ANNIVERSARY L IKE MANY other credit unions, the Portland Co- operative Credit Union Limited was established from the merger of St Georges Credit Union in Buff Bay and St Anthony’s Credit Union in Port Antonio. The new organisation had assets of $56,000.00, sav- ings of $51,444.00, loans of $30,000, andmembership of 600. Over the years, the Portland Co-operative Credit Union went through various phases that incorporated challenges, success, slow growth, rapid growth, low cash flow, high cash flow, losses, profitability, as well as poor image and positive image. However, after 50 years of chequered history, the credit union ended 2020 in a position of strength and member focus. It has assets of $6.2 billion, loans of $3.7 billion, saving of $4.5 billion, capital reserves and retained earnings of $1.7 billion, membership of 38,891, and 15,755 children savers. The members of the credit union are rewarded with competitive returns on their savings, while borrow- ers enjoy reasonable rates of interest on their loans. Apart from providing the regular financial products, the credit union is involved very deeply in the life of the community through its expansive outreach programme. Over the years, many millions of dollars are used to support scholarships, multiple educa- tional projects, sponsorship of civic and sporting competitions, to fund disaster relief efforts and offer hardship alleviation grants. Additionally, there is a comprehensive work-experience programme that caters to an average of six persons annually. FIFTY YEARS Items 1971 2020 Savings $51,444 $4.5 billion Loans $30,000 $3.7 billion Asset $56,299 $6.2 billion Membership 600 38,891 As the credit union grew through the decades, its capacity expanded steadily. The range of savings products increased from one (share) to eight, and currently there are seven loan products. While most persons do business in the offices of the credit union, members are now able to access and do limited trans- actions on their accounts electronically and online. The credit union has been served by devoted groups of volunteers and staff over the years. There are volun- teers who have served in excess of 20 years and staff who served over 30 years. Altogether, the teams have served the credit union very well. The staff grew from three in 1971 to the current size of 46. From among the volunteer groups in the credit union came the first female president of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Yvonne Ridguard-Harris. She also served as president of the Board of Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and as a director on theWorld Council of Co-operative Credit Unions Board. Through the visionary thinking of the boards, the credit union acquired properties in both towns in the parish in which it operates the two offices; the head office in Port Antonio and the branch office in Buff Bay. The growth in the credit union required increased operational space at both offices. This led to two amendments in the Buff Bay building and significant expansion in the building at Port Antonio. Over the 50 years of providing service to Portlanders, there are hundreds of persons who can testify that the Portland Co-operative Credit Union assisted then in owning homes and motor vehicles, establishing businesses, and financing their and their children’s education. As the Portland Co-operative Credit Union moves into the second 50 years, the organisation is posi- tioned to expand and modernise the services to members. The membership base will expand, and they will do business at their convenience and from anywhere in the world. The organisation is being positioned to be one of the most attractive and family-focused financial institutions in Portland. The credit union will continue to be guided by the mantra ‘Moving Ahead, Serving You Better’. PORTLAND CO-OPERATIVE CREDIT UNION LIMITED– 1971-2021 GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY Martin Blackwood General Manager