SPIRE Director of Business Development Rachael Reiling took a three-week trip to the Philippines in October and while she was there, connected with some of the leading international credit union organizations and Filipino co-ops.
When most people decide to take a trip to a beautiful tropical destination, they don’t necessarily think about bringing work with them and certainly don’t think about volunteering their time to do so. Rachael Reiling isn’t like most people. “I had been planning a volunteer trip to the Philippines for a while,” stated SPIRE Director of Business Development Rachael Reiling, “but when my original plans fell through, I thought, ‘why not connect with other credit unions to share knowledge and experiences?’”
Reiling first reached out to the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) to get connected with Filipino cooperatives. They not only connected her with several local co-op credit unions, but also with the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN), Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), National Association of Training Centers for Cooperatives (NATCCO), and National Capital Region League of Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperative Organizations (PFCCO-NCR). Together, they created a three-week itinerary for Rachael to share U.S. credit union practices and regulatory efforts. She also helped create a strategic growth plan for KAYA, a new electronic payment platform for Filipino credit co-ops. Finally, along with GWLN, Reiling created a tool kit for implementing new GWLN sister societies.
During her whirlwind itinerary, Rachael experienced incredible hospitality from the four cooperatives she visited – Most Holy Rosary, San Jose, Tagum, and Pagluam Multipurpose Co-op. At each credit co-ops, she presented on U.S. credit union regulatory protections, fraud prevention, products and services, digital marketing, and professional development resources for women. Her presentation was well received as Filipino co-ops currently have little regulatory or development practices, but are in high-demand.
Her trip didn’t only focus on sharing what U.S. credit unions do. In each community, she had the opportunity to visit business development centers where women come to learn to become an entrepreneur. They are trained, provided access to equipment, and given initial seed funding to create their own livelihoods.
Rachael also had several unique experiences. “I visited an indigenous tribe where Tagum Co-op stepped up to serve hot lunches after learning the children of this tribe were suffering from extreme malnourishment,” Rachael reflected, “I was taught the traditional tribal dances and songs, given a really beautiful welcome ceremony from the children, and helped serve the hot lunch that day to the kids.” She also visited a prison where women were learning new trades and skills to earn an income after they were released.
In addition, Reiling participated in government relations and advocacy work. She spoke with local politicians on the importance of the co-ops and the great work they are doing in their communities to give back and promote financial literacy. She was also featured on local Filipino news outlets.
“Rachael has many gifts to share with her experience and knowledge in the financial industry, but also has a passion for helping others,” stated SPIRE Vice President of Marketing & Business Development Lisa Lehman, “We are fortunate to have such a generous leader at SPIRE.”
Upon her return, Rachael met with the WOCCU and GWLN to provide her observations regarding the implementation and growth of their KAYA and sister society initiatives and to finalize a formal report and strategic plan.
To learn more about the World Council of Credit Unions, please visit www.woccu.org. For information about the Global Women’s Leadership Network, please visit www.cuwomen.org.