A group of 32 credit unions in Puerto Rico received about $6 million in assignments from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) to expand their services to economically disadvantaged communities.
The allocation constitutes the largest amount granted by the U.S. Treasury to co-ops in Puerto Rico, reaching $10 million in economic assistance during the past two years, said Eddie W. Alicea-Sáez, chairman of the Co-op Executives Association (ASEC, in Spanish).
The impact of these funds could reach tens of thousands of people between credit union partners and members of the communities that the co-ops serve, said Alicea-Sáez.
The CDFI Fund distributed $3.7 million in funding to 29 credit unions that are being certified as community development finance institutions.
Another $2.2 million was assigned to the Sagrada Familia, Camuy Co-op and Jesús Obrero credit unions for resiliency, renewable energy, and financing projects for small and medium-sized companies, among others. Sagrada Familia and Camuy Co-op received $794,500, respectively and Jesús Obrero got $637,500.
“The CDFI’s goal is to impact the most vulnerable communities with this allocation for technical and financial courses. At a time when Puerto Rico so needs it, the cooperative movement is striving to find alternatives that benefit its people,” said Alicea-Sáez, who is executive president of the Sagrada Familia Credit Union.
With the funding assignments, the credit unions will be able to develop other products to improve the response capacity of its members and the community to natural disasters, said Aurelio Arroyo, member of the ASEC board and executive president of the Jesús Obrero cooperative.
He also said the funding will assist in the development of financial services to facilitate the purchase of a first home, strengthen community financial education programs, and expand the technological capacity of the credit unions.
“Channeling resources through a community-based financial institution such as a cooperative, results in the investment of each dollar is multiplied up to 10 times in regards to the impact to the community and the local economy,” Arroyo said.
The credit unions that received $125,000 grants are: Lomas Verdes; CooPACA; CRH Co-op; Florida Co-op; Lajas Co-op; Co-op San Blas; Bonico-op; Quebrada Co-op; Cidreña; Cabo Rojo Co-op; Camuy Co-op; Jayuco-op; Juana Díaz Co-op; Trabajador Co-op; Custo Co-op; Rincón; CACSI; Yaucoop; Haticoop; Hermanos Unidos; La Puertorriqueña; Moroveña; Co-operativa Oriental; MacCo-op; Vegabajeña; Buenaco-op; Cooperativa Roosevelt Roads; Nuestra Co-op; Larco-op; and San Rafael Co-operativa.