New Zealand Credit Union Foundation (NZCUF)

The NZCUF is responsible for managing New Zealand’s participation in international Credit Union development and provides a structure to manage fulfilment of this important role.

Development Education Scholarship Scheme

On an annual basis, the Foundation awards scholarships to credit unions to part fund attendance at CUFA’s Development Educator’s Course held annually in the last quarter of the year. The scholarship covers course costs, accommodation and travel. The scholarships are open to credit union directors, managers and staff. Recipients of the scholarships are asked to undertake a project in their community that will help the Foundation raise funds for development work within New Zealand or overseas. The project outline is presented to the Foundation Managers as a written report within three weeks of completing the course. It is expected that the project itself be completed within twelve months of completing the Development Education course.

Village Entrepreneur Scheme

Many people in developing countries, especially those that live in rural and remote areas, do not have access to financial services – for savings or access to affordable credit. This makes it difficult or impossible for many people to create or expand small businesses, the backbone of strong and sustainable communities. The CUFA Village Entrepreneur Scheme aims to provide opportunities for individuals to take action and improve their lives through micro-business development – where community investors provide financial support and CUFA manages the selection and support of Village Entrepreneurs as they are guided towards financial independence.

Fund Raising

The Foundation raises money in a variety of ways through the Colin Smith Memorial Fund to fund initiatives such as those outlined above and offers hardship funds (on a needs basis) to those in communities affected by natural and man-made disasters, both here in New Zealand and further afield. Fundraising takes the form of appeals as and when required, selling of promotional items such as pens and bumper stickers, and an Annual Auction – held at the Co-op Money NZ Annual Conference dinner.

Colin Smith Memorial Fund

Established in 1986, the Colin Smith Memorial Fund was formed to ensure that Colin Smith’s efforts in the creation of a lively New Zealand credit union movement were never forgotten. He certainly was a remarkable individual with a passion for the credit union principles of “people helping people”. He tirelessly spread the message about credit unions until his death in in 1986.

The Colin Smith Memorial Fund is registered as a Charity and ensures that New Zealand credit unions have access to funds to make a real difference in their communities. It’s all about helping people help themselves through the credit union model. Some of the funds raised have gone towards those who have experienced hardship through some form of disaster – more recently the fund has contributed to those affected by the Pike River Coal Mine Disaster and the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.

“We really appreciated your help and kindness especially in this tough time in our life. This will make a big difference and help our family. In behalf of my family we would like to say thank you very very much for your help….May God bless you all…”

Marife Mautoatasi, grateful NZCU South Member and recipient of a hardship grant following the Christchurch earthquake.

Funds also go towards sponsoring credit union staff; this enables them to undertake initiatives to extend their credit union reach within their communities.

Initiatives include:

  • Money management and coaching programmes for Members of credit unions
  • Community gardens
  • Financial Literacy Toolkits

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By providing the means for individuals to consider and then start a small business, Community Investors provide Village Entrepreneurs with the potential for future growth and stability. Currently the Foundation supports Cheoung Ratana, a Cambodian Village Entrepreneur.