In rural Mexico, where as much as 95% of the rural population lacks access to formal financial services, WOCCU's program is expanding financial services through credit unions to 240,000 marginalized people within three and a half years. The program, which was formerly funded by the Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA), is now being funded by the Bank of National Savings and Financial Services (BANSEFI) through its Programa de Asistencia Técnica al Microfinanciamiento Rural (PATMIR).
WOCCU is helping credit unions expand their services to underserved areas through its rural outreach methodology, Semilla Cooperativa [cooperative seed], which emphasizes savings mobilization. The approach involves credit unions training rural field officers to attract new members, extend financial education, approve small loan applications and bring credit, savings and remittance services directly to people living in remote rural areas up to 30 km. (19 miles) from branch offices. In this way, rural members save money on transportation and put more time and resources into income-generating activities rather than spend a day's wages and time traveling to the nearest branch office.
In order to increase the efficiency and security in delivering these financial services to remote areas, the program has developed and implemented new management tools that help identify the most cost-effective routes and increase the efficiency of member registration.
WOCCU is also employing technologies such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld printers and point-of-service (POS) devices to bring financial services to hard-to-reach areas. Through the use of PDAs and handheld printers, field officers are immediately able to produce receipts while member accounts are updated in real time. In addition, loan applications through the PDA shorten transaction times and enable credit union representatives to serve more people during field visits. Credit unions are able to minimize risk by transmitting data to the financial institution online. In this way, field officers can see a member's current account balance and do not have to transport as much money between communities.
In addition to the activities funded by BANSEFI, the program implemented and promoted WOCCU's MatchSavings.org program to help the poor develop savings habits in order to build assets rather than debt. The program has been discontinued.