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How to Start a Credit Union from the Trunk of Your Car

Sue Cuevas joins The Remarkable Credit Union podcast

The “About” pages on credit union websites are full of stories about humble beginnings—small groups of people getting together to pool their resources. Nueva Esperanza Credit Union has a similar story, but with one crucial difference: It was founded in 2010.

This month, CEO Sue Cuevas shares her inspiring journey, starting with recruiting inaugural members by copying their ID documents with a portable copy machine she kept in the trunk of her car. She talks about what spurred her to leave a 30-year career in corporate banking to start a credit union and what she’s learned along the way.

She also tackles this month’s BIG question:

What are the advantages of serving a specific demographic, and would the credit union movement benefit from more niche institutions that truly know their members?

 

Key takeaways

  1. Trust is key. One of the biggest challenges but also opportunities when starting Nueva Esperanza was building trust within the community it aimed to serve. Lots of people were skeptical of financial institutions, and with good reason. Sue had to meet these people where they were at — literally. At church events, parks, etc. It’s amazing to think she was signing up new members from the trunk of her car!
  2. CDFI certification is cumbersome but absolutely worth it. And if you get the certification, be ready and willing to learn how to write grants! The grant funding Nueva Esperanza has received has helped supply more capital for lending opportunities and in turn, helped the credit union to more effectively serve the community. Some of these loans are small but hugely impactful, like helping a family buy a furnace so they don’t have to worry about fires from space heaters.
  3. Looking back, Sue wishes she’d better leveraged the spirit of people helping people in the early days and not tried to do so many things by herself. She’s since learned how many other credit unions are ready and willing to help, which stands in stark contrast to the corporate banking world she was used to. She’s since tried to pay that forward by helping other credit unions as well.

 

Read the full transcript

Cameron Madill:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Remarkable Credit Union podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology, and community impact. Each episode we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual, and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative, and magnify the positive impact in your community. Today’s big question, what are the advantages of serving a specific demographic, and would the credit union movement benefit from more niche institutions that truly know their members? I’m Cameron Madill, the CEO and one of the co-owners at Pixel Spoke.

Kerala Taylor:
And I’m Kerala Taylor, also a co-owner at Pixel Spoke and the senior manager of marketing. We’re so excited today to be joined by Sue Cuevas. She’s the inaugural CEO for the first Latino Credit Union in Ohio, just called Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union, and was chartered in 2010. Sue has more than 30 years of experience in the banking and financial industry, and she recently won the Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award, which recognizes individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to the community development credit union movement, also known as the CDCU movement. Sue has taught many classes on financial literacy and has developed bilingual education programs focusing on first time home buyers in Northwest Ohio. She also loves to read and travel with her daughter. One of her favorite travel destinations to date has been Puerto Rico, where she spoke at the Inclusive Conference in 2022. Sue, thank you so much for joining us.

Sue Cuevas:
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Kerala Taylor:
I’ve been really enjoying just learning about Nueva Esperanza, even though it was founded in 2010. That’s a little while ago, but that’s relatively recent in an industry that just doesn’t see all that many startups. I’m just curious, what inspired you to start the credit union? What need did Nueva Esperanza set out to fulfill that just wasn’t being met elsewhere?

Sue Cuevas:
Okay. Well, I have to say that coming from corporate banking, I was offered an opportunity to help start up a credit union. Now where I live, which is about an hour away from where our credit union is currently, we don’t have credit unions. As I’m coming to speak to them and let them share with me what their vision and mission was, I’m Googling, “What is a credit union?” And the first thing that pops up is people helping people. Well, in the Latino culture, we all travel in tribes, we all go to the laundromat, we all go to the grocery store. I mean, we all pack each other in cars. I thought, “Wow, interesting. People helping people helping. I don’t see that in the corporate banking world.”

The mission primarily was to help the underserved and the unbanked in our community providing bilingual services. There was a group of professionals, Latino professionals, that decided in South Toledo there needs to be a credit union that will help those, especially with the bilingual format. Their fear was going into an institution where they could not be understood or they couldn’t comprehend. Primarily the mission was to help the underserved and unbanked be able to have access to financial services just like anybody else.

Kerala Taylor:
Oh, I just love that, and it sounds like a very worthy mission and knowing a thing or two about startups, I’m sure you faced some challenges along the way as well. The reason we brought you on our podcast is that our coworker, Dave Drouin, met you at the Inclusive Conference just this past year and heard you speak and just said he felt like you faced some really unique challenges when you were initially just figuring out how to engage your community and support your members. I’m just curious how you framed these challenges, and I’m sure there are some you’re still overcoming, but what that journey has been like.

Sue Cuevas:
Okay. Well, the first journey was that I didn’t realize I was the only employee and they were calling me the CEO. The second one was I was given a desk inside a credit union here in Toledo, and they literally said, “Okay, here you go.” They brought up a Gateway laptop, which I don’t even think they make those anymore anyway, but there wasn’t absolutely anything. No forms, no documents, no policies and procedures, no interest rates. It was a startup, initially a startup. I had to figure out how am I going to recruit membership? I literally bought a copier, I had it in my car. I attached one of the little fanny packs that they call them, and I drove around, especially the Latino community, and I would set up everywhere and say, “Hey, we’re starting the very first Latino Credit Union in the state of Ohio. I’d love for you to be a member. I just need identification and $5.”

And lo and behold, that’s exactly how I started working out of my car. Then I would go back to the credit union where I had an office, an empty office, and then I would verify the address, send them a receipt for their initial $5 membership. Well, the membership fee that we … It’s really their money. That’s how I would verify if it was a legitimate address. And I think back at what I did, and I mean, I would literally set up in every church event, any Latino festival, any place that would let me set up a table to promote membership growth, membership recruiting for Nueva Esperanza, I was there. Church prayer groups, one week I’d be in the Baptist church. The next week I’d be in the Catholic, and it didn’t matter to me.

If they wanted to pray, go for it. I needed all the prayer I could get. But that’s literally how it really started out of the trunk of my car. And now I look back and I think when I do that again, and I’m not sure that I would, but at that time, I was so excited about the opportunity to be able to help, and especially the culture. Been a lot of challenges. One of them, the biggest challenge was the trust factor. They come from their countries where they have been mistreated financially. Money goes missing in their accounts. They don’t have access to their accounts sometimes. And that was one of the things that we had to overcome, especially in our Latino credit Union.

Once they understood the goal was to help them and they understood what NCUA stood for and the security of their money and that no, we weren’t going to take their money. It was theirs, whenever they wanted access to it. It did take a while, but I think the biggest challenge was the trust. And once we overcame some of that, then they would come in. A lot of them were referrals from their family and friends. But I would have to say that was one of the biggest challenges that we had.

Cameron Madill:
Sue, I’m really curious, you touched on the concept of trust. I am perhaps a bizarre fun fact, I’m fascinated with marriage therapy. I read about it all the time, and I’m reading a book right now called The Science of Trust. It’s all about ways to measure mathematically the way that individuals interact with each other and either kind of turn towards each other or turn away from each other. You talked about how important trust is and how that’s the foundation. Are there any specific pieces of advice you would have as far as in particular serving the Latino community? Either those micro moments or those bigger moments that help to build trust to go from a place of you said often historical distrust and bad experiences to one of feeling comfortable and trusting?

Sue Cuevas:
Well, I knew that I had to be a friend, and when you are a friend, that creates a trust factor. I would be at every event, like children’s programs, I wanted them to see me. I would inquire about their families. I would hear that so-and-so’s, “Our credit union member was maybe ill,” I would make a phone call. I did a lot of more personal little touches that would make them know that, “No, we’re just not here to take your money. We are a true trusted friend and I want you to trust me.” Yes, it was a 24/7. I mean, literally 24/7 going to the churches to attend, where I knew some of my members would go. Going to the parks and provide bubbles or balloons or things where I knew that the children were going to be.

A lot of it was becoming a friend, someone they could trust, and then they started to understand, “Hey, Sue is here. She really cares. They really care about us.” And we started seeing memberships obviously open their accounts with us. As with anything, and I know you speak about the marriage thing, if you lose the trust you definitely lose a lot in your marriage. And I think it goes the same way with building strong credit union members. You have to have them trust you and then you have to fulfill that trust.

It’s a two-way thing. They want to be able to come to you and talk to you and be able to confide in you and ask you questions as well as we want to be able to go to them and say, “Hey, are your payments a little bit late? Do we need to know why?” And obviously they open up to you maybe the need or the reason why. I think where we lack sometimes is the communication and friendship. And I think that’s very important for any credit union, especially if you’re reaching out to a Latino based community. Be a friend because eventually they will come to you.

Cameron Madill:
I love that framing because it’s kind of like the quip that you can’t grow your credit union from behind a desk. You have to get out there and engage with people and sort of on the marriage, if we can use that as the, in some sense, the biggest, hardest relationship we’ll have, hopefully the most rewarding too. The research shows that when hard things happen, it’s like the emotional bank account. As you said, it’s the friendship that’s been built up that actually is the reserve that allows you to weather whatever challenges come up. Awesome. I love that. And I guess, so be a friend. It sounds like that’s kind of your key advice.

Sue Cuevas:
It is. It’s a primary key. And you may not be a friend to everybody, but the fact that they know that you’re there to help provide financial resources, financial education, teach them how to be savvy with some of their money, they actually come to me currently to ask me for advice on other things. Obviously if I can help, I will, but that’s just the trust factor in them. “I can go to Sue.” I’m on a first time basis name, so I always make sure I am available when I see a lobby full of people to go out there, ask them, “How are you doing? How’s it going?” Things like that. And you’re right, you cannot sit behind a desk and grow a credit union. And it does take a lot of work, but it’s been worth it.

Kerala Taylor:
So Sue, I’ve learned that Nueva Esperanza is a community development financial institution, otherwise known as a CDFI. And I’ve learned a little bit about the certification process, mostly through Inclusiv town halls, we’re both members of Inclusiv. It sounds like it’s quite the process. And I’m just curious, what inspired you to pursue certification? How do you feel like it’s helped you, and what advice would you give to another credit union that’s considering becoming a CDFI?

Sue Cuevas:
Okay. And just to insert a little bit, I came from corporate banking, so I was not familiar with, first of all, credit unions, much less what is a CDFI, much less grants. I heard that if you were CDFI, of course that was a recommendation by Inclusive, which has been such a strong supporter for credit unions, especially small credit unions. As a startup credit union, we didn’t have all of the capital that we needed. We did have some, but we didn’t have all the capital. And one of the things I knew is that with still being in the first stages of the trust, a lot of the Latino community weren’t going to come in and deposit their money. A lot of them love to have it in a shoebox underneath the mattress, and they’re not afraid to keep 20, 30,000 at home.

So when they mentioned CDFI, I started looking into the one thing that would allow us to do was apply for grants. Becoming a CDFI certified credit union did enable us to do that, receive grant funding to provide capital, obviously, especially for lending opportunities. It also enabled us to mark our footprint in the community as a solid institution. We are now a CDFI. We’re low income designated. In reference to what I would say to those thinking about it, even though it is a very technical and detailed process, it is very well worth it. And I would highly recommend those credit unions that are considering becoming a CDFI, certified financial institution, to apply.

Do not give up, be a little bit aggressive. Even if you have to hire a consultant to help you start the process. It would mean a lot, not only to your credit union, but it would allow expansion of capital for your community and for any other institutional goals that you might have. It’s one opportunity that you can take advantage of. Then in the past we have been able to apply for the technical assistant grants, and we have received obviously over two million in grants, which definitely helps our small credit union.

Kerala Taylor:
That’s great. Thank you. I feel like it’s definitely something that’s gaining more traction in the credit union movement, but there are a lot of credit unions that could probably benefit that haven’t yet been through that process. I hope you serve as an inspiration for them.

Sue Cuevas:
I hope so, because I really think every credit union that can should be CDFI certified, especially if you’re working in a community with lower income. It’s a very strong strategic purpose in having that designation for your credit union.

Kerala Taylor:
Absolutely. And I’m just curious, whenever you start out on a new journey, hindsight is always 2020 and you learn a lot along the way. And I know there’s always some moments you’re like, “Wow, I wish I had known this when I was just starting out.” I was wondering a few things you wish you had known when you were starting out, when you were recruiting members out of the back of your car.

Sue Cuevas:
Yes. Well, and I always refer to this, coming from corporate banking, you never heard people helping people. In the very beginning I was very reserved. I was trying to do everything on my own, trying to get interest rates, trying to get policies and procedures, trying to put everything together, not realizing that to be perfectly honest, people helping people meant credit unions helping credit unions. And I wish I would’ve known that probably the first few or maybe even the first year and a half of starting this because it would’ve been so much less stress. I didn’t realize that there were so many credit unions willing to help from sharing policies, from sharing ideas, from being able to even come and help to start the process of it. I had a credit union that shared their teller. I had a credit union that shared all of their policies.

We had the Ohio Credit Union League that also had what was called Policy Pro. “Hey, do you want this? Okay, tweak it to fit Nueva Esperanza.” I guess had I known that really this was the way that credit unions work with people helping people, I would’ve been a much less stressful person. I mean, I think in my first year and a half here, I became a coffeeholic. It was like trying to stay up and trying to do things, but I wish I would’ve known that I would never be in this journey alone. And that would’ve been so much easier to understand. I am now aware that it truly is a people helping people philosophy.

I myself have offered so many smaller credit unions the knowledge that I’ve learned to help them succeed in different areas. I don’t say I’m a professional grant writer, but I can say that I can write my own grants now, and I’ve been pretty successful with those. I guess the part of, “You are never going to be alone, Sue, you are always going to have a helping hand,” just a phone call, a text or an email away. I wish I would’ve known how easy it was in the beginning, but I do know now. It’s made my life much more pleasant. Yeah.

Kerala Taylor:
And it sounds like you’re paying it forward, which is wonderful.

Sue Cuevas:
Yes. I’ve always said if I could be anything when I grow up, I would definitely want to be a consultant for credit unions on how not to start up a credit union than how to start up a credit union. But so many people have shared and helped, even at pro bono, which you don’t even hear that. If I would be able to help another credit union in whatever aspect I could, I think that would be the fulfilling reward to the end of my career or whatever when I retire.

Cameron Madill:
Well, that’s a perfect segue to Sue, one of the things I’ve noticed in my life, whether it’s professionally or even personally, is that often it’s the hardest moments, sometimes even the most painful moments that have actually contained the seed of the biggest successes. I’m curious for you, you talked about the beginning stages, but is there anything else from your journey that initially failed you felt kind of like, “Oh, we had such high hopes,” but actually it led to a solution or an idea or an innovation that you wouldn’t have otherwise come up with?

Sue Cuevas:
Yes, there was quite a few. There was many times that I felt like, “I just can’t do this.” There was a lot of tears. I’ll be really honest with you. I’m glad I had the long drive home. It was an hour drive. By the time I got home, I had dried my tears. I sat straight up in the car and walked into the house and was totally a different person. But there was a lot of challenges at the time, especially we had hired a grant writer and we didn’t get any grants. They don’t do this free. So disappointed. We got to one point where we really thought, “Wow, our capital ratio is really low. They’re probably going to make us either merge or close or whatever.” And I had a lot of sleepless nights. But one of the things that I would always remember is, “But we’re a people helping people institution, and you can’t give up now, Sue. Too many people have come your way. You have helped too many people.”

The stories I could share, they’re not debt consolidation, they’re people that wanted just a furnace and nobody would lend them any money because there was no credit history. And Nueva comes in and steps up and says, “Sure, we’ll get you a furnace.” And you see the parents crying because now they don’t have to get up and check on their children with these little heaters. The stories that we have are amazing. I could make you cry, I could make you laugh. Yes, there were a lot of times that I felt like, “Wow, we’re just not going to make it.” But in the back of my mind, there was always that, but if you can just help one more member, if we can just hang in there. And I am a strong faith believe in person, so I had to tell the Lord, “You’re just going to have to give me guidance on how to write grants.”

I mean, I think I’m pretty good at learning. That became my goal to try to write the grants. And I have to say that since I’ve written the grant we’ve received a hundred percent of what I’ve submitted. But the one thing I do want to stress is as a CEO, we have to believe in ourselves first because that projects into your team of your employees. And I always strive to do that. I have to believe that what we’re doing is a good thing for the community, that what we’re doing is making a difference. It’s impacting people that other financial institutions won’t reach because number one, they may not want to be in the area that we are. We’re in a very gang related area, obviously because of where we’re located. We do have an officer, not a security, but we do have a police officer during the hours that we’re open.

So not everybody wants to work in those. You want a high rise office where you can overlook the river and drink Starbucks all the time. And here we are located in the basement of a clinic and there are times when you pick up your coffee at the gas station because there aren’t any Starbucks around where we are. But believing in you as a person is the primary goal. And your team, and obviously your board, you have to have a board that believes in what you want. The same mission, never giving up. Don’t be afraid to try something. Set your goals. If you don’t reach them, try something else.

I mean, I guess it’s the power of not giving up. And that’s really what is a success to making everything work. You can fall, you can hit yourself, you can get hurt, but you have to keep going. And I think I learned that from my parents. They were pastors and I saw so many people come in our home from different countries and my mom would serve them, my dad also. And I always grew up thinking that’s what life is about, is serving others, helping others succeed. I project that in my credit union. I project it with my team, I project that in my board. This is why we’re here for a purpose. It’s not to take up space, obviously. Yeah, that’s pretty much.

Cameron Madill:
I love that, Sue. If I could summarize, I feel like what I heard was being willing to go where others don’t want to go.

Sue Cuevas:
Exactly.

Cameron Madill:
I remember a friend saying that to me years ago, he just said, “Hey, I just kind of look at where are all my competitors, they’re fish, where are they going? And I just try to swim the other way.” And it was so simple, but I’ve always thought that’s a really powerful way. Then it sounds like believe in yourself and your team and really infuse that sense of purpose and everything you do. Then lastly, a little more tactically, it sounds like learn how to write your own grants.

Sue Cuevas:
Exactly. You’re just going to have to figure it out. Grant 101 or Grant for Dummies, I guess it would be, it’s just inspiring to me. I love my credit union, I love the people, I love people would say, “What are you doing there in that area?” But it’s passionately serving where others won’t come into work, and that’s what makes a difference, at least in my life and in my community.

Kerala Taylor:
Well, I love that. And I also had to teach myself how to write grants when co-founding a nonprofit years ago. It is quite a skill, but it’s a good one to have. Kudos to you for teaching yourself. Well, I wanted to ask, we’ve looked back a lot and looked back to the origins of Nueva Esperanza, and I’m just wanting to look forward. I do think that credit unions face a bit of a paradox. You want to grow, you want to serve more members, you want to better serve your community, but at the same time, you might not want to get too big. I think there’s a lot of power in them seeing the CEO of the credit union at church events and in the park. I definitely think there’s some tension there. And I’m just curious how you see that. And just like when you look forward 10 years, where do you see Nueva Esperanza?

Sue Cuevas:
Well, as the only Latino credit union chartered in the state of Ohio, we do get a lot of recognition. However, we’re only located in Northwest Ohio. We just have one location, our office. I would love to see several locations, several branches, especially within the state of Ohio. Whether it goes anything farther than that, I’m not too concerned. But I think a few locations in the North, the South, East and the West, I would be okay having a location there. But I do see it as a strong, committed credit union serving passionately, especially the Latino community. We’re obviously open to anyone in our field of membership. We definitely do have the bilingual skills in this credit union to serve in both capacities. And I think that’s important. Financially secure. Well, I don’t know if anybody could ever be financially secured. I mean, that capital ratio could go up, it could go down. And obviously the pandemic showed us that nothing is secure. But I do see it as being a strong, committed and financially well credit union moving forward, opening a couple of locations to continue serving the community, especially the Latino community.

Cameron Madill:
All right. Thank you, Sue. Let’s do some rapid fire questions. Let’s go off script, because Esperanza is one of my favorite words in Spanish, but maybe not everyone knows that word. Can you tell people what the name means and why you chose it?

Sue Cuevas:
Okay. Nueva Esperanza means new hope. And in serving our community, a lot of them come over here without any hope. They leave their families or countries, their culture, and they come in to something totally different, not knowing. And we want them to know, “Hey, there is hope. We can help you establish credit. We have a program for that. We can help you get a citizenship loan. We have loans for that.” Hope is such a strong, powerful word, and I feel it fits perfectly for what our mission is.

Cameron Madill:
I love it. Thank you for sharing that. All right, next rapid fire question. What is your favorite ice cream?

Sue Cuevas:
I have so many, but butter pecan.

Cameron Madill:
How many others do you have? Do we have enough time?

Sue Cuevas:
Yeah, I mean, well, cookies and cream.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah, I love that.

Sue Cuevas:
I’m not a traditional strawberry, vanilla, chocolate. I don’t want that. Give me something that’s a little bit more exciting.

Cameron Madill:
I love it. If you could have dinner with one historical person, who would it be and why?

Sue Cuevas:
Maya Angelou, and I guess I love reading her famous quotes. I think she was such a beautiful, powerful woman. But one of the favorite quotes that I liked from her were, “Do the best that you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” That’s kind of been my philosophy, because you’re always in the credit union movement, you think you know it, but then you really don’t. Then if you do know it, you just need to keep going and learning. I think if I could just sit with her for 20 minutes, that would be sufficient.

Cameron Madill:
I love it. She was such a wise woman. What is the best advice you ever received?

Sue Cuevas:
Don’t take things personally. That can drain you, not only mentally and physically, but someone said, “Don’t take things personally. Just do your best and passionately love what you do.” I think I instilled that in my family. My children don’t take things personally in their professions. As long as you’re doing the best that you can and you’re loving what you do, you’re going to be successful.

Cameron Madill:
I love that. And this is because you have so much wisdom. I’m going to ask a similar question. What is your life slogan? What is that thing that guides you?

Sue Cuevas:
I’ve had this life slogan since I was a little girl actually. And my mom and dad instilled this. I’ve instilled it in my children and it’s just a biblical scripture that said, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” There’s many times that I really felt overwhelmed starting up the credit union, even the chartered waters. And I would remember my mom would say, “You can do all things through Christ and he’s going to give you strength.” When I said earlier I’m a strong faith believing person, I think I pray a lot. I feel like in life you just need to keep praying that God gives you wisdom and patience because patience, passion, and persistence is really where it’s helped me to be where I am today.

Cameron Madill:
I love that. Faith is such a powerful thing. A bonus question I did not send you in advance, but you shared this earlier, so it sounds like you’re native of Ohio, you have family from Spain and Mexico, but if you could pick any nationality, what would it be?

Sue Cuevas:
Puerto Rican. I would love to be Puerto Rican. I think the food, the culture, the music, but I’m proud of who I am. Obviously I’m proud to be Mexican American and I’m proud that there’s a little bit of Spaniard. I’m proud to be who I am, but probably because of the food and being in Puerto Rico last year, I was like, “Oh, I could get used to this.” We have so many people here from so many different countries, especially Latin American countries, and I guess I wish I was a little bit of everything, but food-wise it’d have to be the Puerto Rican culture.

Cameron Madill:
I love that answer. All right, well, let’s do our final take. Is there anything, Sue, that you didn’t get to or anything you’d really like to reiterate for our audience?

Sue Cuevas:
The one thing that I would have to say is that, and this goes back into the credit union, and I have to say that engagement is a key to a successful relationship with your members. Unfortunately, there are some people that don’t get engaged in the community, whether it’s because it’s a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday afternoon and we feel like those belong to us. But when you have a small credit union and the need is there, you have to go where the need is. And you have to find those people and let them know, “Hey, we’re here.” You have to never be afraid to offer your services of what you do as a credit union, who you are and what they can benefit from becoming a member. I would have to say that for me, engagement would is a strong key for a successful relationship to have your credit union grow.

Cameron Madill:
Awesome. Well, Sue, thank you for joining us today and sharing your wisdom and your story. It’s been a real pleasure to chat with you.

Sue Cuevas:
I appreciate it so much. Thanks a lot for having me.

Kerala Taylor:
Well, what an inspiring conversation. I found Sue’s energy infectious. She clearly has so much passion for her own credit union and for the broader credit union movement as a whole. And thinking back to some key takeaways, I’d say number one is the importance of trust. It seems like one of the biggest challenges, but also opportunities when starting Nueva Esperanza was building trust within the community they needed to serve. Lots of people in this particular community were skeptical of financial institutions and they had very good reasons for that, which meant Sue had to meet these people where they were at, and most cases, literally at church events and parks. It’s just amazing to me to think that she was signing up new members from the trunk of her car. Secondly, I love learning more about CDFI certification, which definitely seems like a cumbersome process, but absolutely worth it.

It sounds like also if you get the certification, be ready and willing to learn how to write grants or at least find someone who can. The grant funding Nueva Esperanza’s received has helped supply more capital for lending opportunities, and it seems like in turn has helped the credit union to more effectively serve the community. I love the example of small but hugely impactful loans, like helping a family buy a furnace so they don’t have to worry about fires from space heaters. Then lastly, I was struck by how Sue wishes she’d better leveraged the spirit of people helping people in the early days and not try to do so many things by herself. I can certainly relate to that tendency, and I think coming from the corporate banking world, it was just a surprise to her to realize how many other credit unions were ready and willing to help. And it sounds like she’s since tried to pay that forward by helping other credit unions as well.

Well, folks, thanks for joining us today for another great episode. The Remarkable Credit Union is brought to you by Pixel Spoke, a digital marketing agency that works with credit unions to create beautiful, user-friendly, award-winning websites. As a B Corp and workaround cooperative, we believe that business can and should be a force for good. You can learn more and check out our work at PixelSpoke.coop. That’s PixelSpoke, all one word, .C-O-O-P. Until the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

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