China’s rural credit cooperatives, or RCCs, would benefit from local ownership, stronger corporate governance and continued tax exemptions, much like credit unions in many other countries. That was the assessment of Ralph Swoboda, an advisor on World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) recent efforts to foster credit union growth in China. Swoboda, the former president of CUNA who has been working on behalf of CUNA Mutual in China, offered his insights during WOCCU’s World Forum here. “One of the biggest challenges is the world public perception that China is no longer a poor country,” Swoboda said, saying reports that it’s the world’s largest consumer of luxury goods belies the fact that the majority of the rural population lives in poverty. Those reports have made it harder to garner support necessary for Chinese rural credit union development. Currently, RCCs serve an estimated 200-million households. What’s needed, said Swoboda, is additional consolidation among RCCs, technical assistance, more professionalism in operations, stronger corporate governance and the proper pricing of loans.

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