|Credit Union :||Guadalupe Credit Union|
|Address :||3601 Mimbres Lane | Santa Fe, NM 87507|
Key Credit Union Data:
- Loan/share ratio:85%
- Hispanic members:75%
- Avg. shares/member:$9,249
- SAFE Account average:$915
- Avg. loans/member:$11,695
- Number of Members using ITINs:1,018 (11% of members)
- Avg. shares/ITIN members:$805
GCU has 667 outstanding loans to ITIN members with an average balance of $12,476. These loans are for automobiles, mobile homes and some mortgages.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is tri-cultural: Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo. The membership at Guadalupe Credit Union is 75% Hispanic. At a strategic planning session in 2001, the board and management made the decision to reach out to its Hispanic immigrant community and provide needed products and services. “That turned out to be a major initiative that is still unfolding and helping us grow each year,” says Winona Nava, president and chief executive officer. To start the outreach process, a couple of board members who spoke Spanish went out with staff on membership drives. A Spanish teacher came to train employees during staff meetings. Half of the 20 employees at the time attended a “Spanish for Banking” class at Santa Fe Community College. The credit union loan and human resource managers, along with Nava, attended a World Council-sponsored two-week immersion course in Mexico to learn the Spanish language and Mexican culture. They stayed with host families that were members of Mexican credit unions (cajas populares).
The credit union today has 46 employees, of which 64% are bilingual. “We try to hire bi-cultural employees – employees who were born in Mexico or South America, but have lived here a number of years and speak Spanish and English fluently,” explains Nava.
In March 2008, Guadalupe added a fourth branch location, this one situated in an underserved Hispanic neighborhood. The branch was made possible through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation’s Community Investment Fund.
The Spanish-language branch serves approximately 600 new members and has a large open lobby to provide a family-friendly atmosphere. It also features an Education Room where financial education seminars are provided to the community. “The seminars are extremely popular,” Nava states. “While there is no immediate return for our investment, our board takes a long-term approach towards our outreach efforts. We are building a presence and making an impact within the Hispanic community.”
The branch location is across the street from a public school that offers programs for children and parents who need assistance. Many of the children are under-housed, which can mean multiple families living within a single family dwelling. One evening a week, parents and these children are offered a free hot meal and some food to take home. The credit union helps sponsor some of these meals. In addition, it provides financial literacy classes in the school and a nearby high school.
- Alternative forms of identification including the Matricula Consular card
- SAFE accounts – non-interest bearing share accounts for those members without social security numbers or ITINs (Individual Tax Identification Numbers)
- ITIN loans
- International Remittances through VIGO and Viamericas Money Transfer for $10/$1000 (members) and $15/$1000 (non-members)
- Check cashing for non-members
- SMART CASH payday loan alternative product for members and non-members
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services for low- to moderate-income families
- Longer branch hours at the Spanish-language branch from 10 am to 7 pm, M-F
- Classes for micro-business loans and through ACCION, underwrite and fund business loans
- Budget and credit counseling
- Share secured Visa loans; members must maintain shares equal to 125% of their credit limits, such as $1,250 deposit for a $1,000 credit line to manage over-limit charges
- Credit-builder loans for as little as $300 for 10 months at rates up to 21%
The credit union partners with an immigrant rights group called Somos un Pueblos Unidos, or “We are a united community.” The credit union had been providing financial tips for a local Spanish newspaper, but the newspaper has dropped that section as a cost-cutting measure. The credit union partners with English as a Second Language (ESL) and offers financial literacy classes as part of the curriculum.
“Word-of-mouth remains our best marketing strategy,” says Nava. “The Hispanic community is very close and when people feel accepted and comfortable doing their financial business with us, they tell their family and friends about us.”
Measures of Success:For the first 10 months of 2009, the credit union’s Spanish-language branch increased:
- New membership by 315 members, a 124% growth rate
- Deposits by $354,000, a 130% growth rate
- Loans by 119, a 137% growth rate
- Loan balances by $1.3 million, a 188% growth rate
The branch’s delinquency ratio is .5%, compared to an overall delinquency ratio of 1.7% for the credit union.
Overall, the credit union’s growth rate for the first 10 months of 2009 has been 7.3%, with a deposit growth rate of 21.2%. “The growth ratios speak to the success of our outreach efforts,” concludes Nava. “The immigrant market provides credit unions with ample opportunity for growth and for building partnerships and presence within these communities.”