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Apr 27, 2000

Members hear HRCU record results

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With over 30,000 members it may be the biggest organisation in Belize. It’s also one of the richest. Last night the Holy Redeemer Credit Union closed the books on yet another year of successful operations.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

At the 56th Annual General Meeting of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union, close to 1,800 members turned out at the Belize City Center. They came for the free food, high value raffles, and of course, to find out how their money was doing. The dollar signs were not disappointing.

Jane Usher, Manager, Treasurer, HRCU

“Tonight, the 26th of the month when I took the figures, I can see, that in the few days of April, that we have grown by 1.2%. And our assets are now in excess of 121.2 million. I think that’s a great accomplishment, the office is always filled with people and I am very very happy when I see all of you trying so hard to live the credit union motto.”

Karl H. Menzies, President, HRCU

“If approved tonight, and I know you will, we are recommending a 6% dividend on shares and a 10% interest rebate, the latter only to those members who have been faithful in their loan repayments to HRCU. This proposed 10% interest rebate will make HRCU’s effective interest rate one of the most attractive and affordable in Belize.”

That piece of news was music to the ears of the 10,000 Belizeans who borrowed more than 40 million dollars this year. Manager and treasurer for the union, Jane Usher, says those same Belizeans have done their best to pay back the money they owe. She explains how the profits will be spread around.

Jane Usher

“It’s been a record payment of loan repayments so much so that our board of directors in their wisdom decided that we would return to the borrowers 10% of all the interest paid. This 10% that will come back to you. I think on the mortgage loans it will be something like $420,000 and on the consumer type loans will be some $460,000. That will come back to you in the form of interest rebates. Besides the dividends and interest you will get on your savings. We did not do that. You did it. I alone and the staff alone and the directors alone could never do that. You are the ones doing it and I would encourage you to continue.”

Since its inauguration in 1944, every year, HRCU has posted marked increases in savings, assets and members. According to Treasurer Jane Usher, the secret to HRCU’s success is their members.

Jane Usher

“The people who do business with the bank don’t own the bank. They are just what you call customers at the bank. But in the credit union, you are a member/owner. You own the credit union and you participate because of ownership and that’s the whole secret to the credit union, ownership.”

But in the midst of another remarkable year, there is talk that credit unions in Belize are acting like banks. Usher disputes this.

Jane Usher

“We are entirely different from a bank but because of the success of HRCU, there is talk that they would want to put us under the banking law. But we have precedence that we could refer to because the same thing happened in the great United States of America and the credit unions won out. They remained under the credit union and the banks lost out. If they ever did the same thing in Belize, we’d fight it to the last.”

Karl H. Menzies

“I have argued with many bankers when they say we are doing big business, but I say you don’t want the little $5 and $10 a week people coming in. This is where the hard work comes because Holy Redeemer Credit Union has over 31,000 members. Now you can imagine the pressure that is on the tellers and accounting and so on. The banks don’t want that. But when they hear the big millions that we’re accumulating, they get jealous.”

Credit Union Member #1

“I love my credit union. My credit union is my lifesaver.”

Janelle Chanona

“How so?”

Credit Union Member #1

“Help me so I could put all my children and my sisters through high school.”

Janelle Chanona

“The bank couldn’t do that for you?”

Credit Union Member #1

“Oh no man. The bank da no for poor people.”

Credit Union Member #2

“At HRCU the interest is very low compared to the banks. So you find out that a credit union is like a poor man’s bank due to where the interest is low.”

Janelle Chanona

“What do you say to people who aren’t members of HRCU?”

Karl H. Menzies

“Come join. You are welcomed.”

Janelle Chanona

“What would be your sales pitch? I know you have a sales pitch.”

Karl H. Menzies

“The sales pitch is that your money is safe. You get the highest interest rates and you pay the lowest interest charges and you get the biggest in rebates and your money is safe.”

The year 2000 will also see the HRCU expand its headquarters to land that has been purchased directly across the street from the existing building on Hyde’s Lane.

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