Latino Community Credit Union was founded in 2000 in Durham NC when the community was rocked by a wave of robberies – even murders – of Latino workers who were paid in cash and were believed to walk around with their pockets stuffed with cash because they were unbanked.
Enter John Herrera – whom you know from CU 2.0 Podcast 142 – and a handful more helpers and visionaries who founded the credit union which now has about $600 million in assets.
Among the early volunteers was Luis Pastor who was in the US from his native Spain because his wife was pursuing graduate school and he had time on his hands. But soon he was offered the job of CEO and he took the offer. It’s a job he is still in 21 years later and, he says, the fulfillment the job brings is what keeps him in it.
Like what? Pastor tells of borrowers who have been deported who are still paying their loans – that seems unthinkable but it is a reality in Durham because this is a credit union that engages in helping people who have been ignored by traditional financial institutions. Extend a helping hand to them and these are people who remember that and value the relationship.
A proof is that in 2020 Latino Community had a lower delinquency rate on loans than it had had in 2019. Despite the pandemic. And despite the fact that few of its members got stimulus checks.
Another pandemic fact about Latino Community Credit Union is that it did not close any branches. “Our community needed us,” said Pastor. He adds that the credit union is planning an expansion into South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia and it now has 15 branches but plans are afoot for adding three more.
Pastor has a word of advice: “If credit unions are trying to steal members from Bank of America we are going to lose this battle.”
Focus instead on the people who really need the services you offer and aren’t getting them elsewhere.
Along the way, you will hear about some truly out of the box thinking. For instance: the credit union has sponsored vaccination days, where – working with Duke University – it has put shots in the arms of some 7000 members. You’d heard that Latinos are vaccine skeptics? True enough. But when people trust a place where their money, they also trust that institution to get them vaccinated.
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