President’s Overview
July 23, 2004
President’s Overview

Forty years ago when Bertram Neehall, Ercelle Cummings, Clem Iton, Elijah Baynes, Ceford Providence, Milton Samuel, Vibert DeShong, Eardley Cato, Stanley Branch, Arden Anderson, Moulton Williams, Beryl Baptiste MBE, Robert Samuel, Zina Garraway, Joyce Cox, Charles Murray, Ormond Ollivierre and Calvin F. Nicholls OBE, took the initial steps to establish the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Government Employees Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., very few thought that such a vision was relevant and noteworthy. {{more}}
The growth of the Credit Union was slow during the first 17 years but those early volunteers, whose work laid the foundation on which we have been able to build, must be given due accreditation. Their commitment and resolve to nurture the development of a society that has survived to this time is commendable. It is even more commendable when GECCU is now seen as one of the leading providers of financial services not only in St. Vincent but in the region.
Today we are the second largest credit union in the OECS with membership of 17,853 and total assets of 80 million dollars ($80,000,000). Public confidence and members’ loyalty in our Credit Union continue to soar, and over the past five years GECCU has almost doubled its assets from 42 million dollars ($42,000,000) in 1992 to 80 million dollars ($80,000,000) in 2004, an achievement that is unrivalled in our financial industry.

So how and when did we start our journey?
In early 1964, on the initiative of Clement W. Iton, assisted by Thomas Saunders of the Co-operative Division, a small group of civil servants set up a study group which was headed by the late Bertram Neehall with Elijah Baynes as secretary.
Later the study group formed a steering committee which comprised the earlier mentioned founders.
The steering committee continued work and these earlier meetings were held at the office of the chairman (the late Bertram Neehall), manager at the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA).
On 24th June 1964, a letter written to the then acting Registrar of Co-operatives, T. M. Saunders, by Elijah Baynes, secretary of the steering committee, sought the registration of our Credit Union under the relative ordinance. The prompt response to that letter was sent to the fledging body by the acting registrar on 30th June 1964 along with the forms for formal registration, which sought information regarding the names of all members, their signatures and addresses.
As early as 11th July 1964, the required information was submitted to the registrar who, after undertaking a survey, issued a CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION OF THE ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES CO-OPERATIVE CREDIT UNION LTD., dated 14th July 1964 under the CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES ORDINANCE NO. 11 OF 1963. At this date of registration, the Society had a share capital of $89 and a membership of 20.
Sixteen persons signed the registration forms. By the end of 1964, the membership had increased to 26 with shares of $426.
In November 1986, the Society purchased the building known as “Halifax House” situated in the main business area of Kingstown, at a cost of $1.032 million dollars. Following renovations it occupied the upper floor of the building where it has been sharing space with SVG Credit Union League since January 1988.
Additionally, after 40 short years of operation, our Credit Union now owns five buildings in Kingstown at a current value of some 17 million dollars.
The growth of our Credit Union received its first real shot-in-the-arm at the 12th Annual General Meeting when the Society extended its common bond to include the relatives of its government employee members, and at the 20th Annual General Meeting the bond was further extended to include all salaried workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The main challenge our movement faces today is to keep developing our society, commensurate with the phenomenal growth we are experiencing.
Members’ education and members’ participation continue to be our main focus and our new training policy will seek to address training for all our staff, committees, board and general membership since we do recognize that our philosophy is indeed “good business!” Very focused attention is also paid to our overseas members and the Vincentian diaspora generally.
We continue to be innovative in the provision of new services and our recently launched mortgage products have been very well received by our membership. The use of computer technology as a means of delivering our services will continue to be an area of focus, and the recently launched photo identification of members transacting business with us has commanded great respect for us from the relevant authority for our compliance with the proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering Act.
Our development initiatives must continue to be all-embracing, sustainable, participative and all-inclusive. Our progress will continue to reflect the respect we pay to our cultural heritage, social practices, economic realities and human rights. Our beloved movement must continue to play its part in the total development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
At this 40th anniversary let us all make a new resolve to build a stong, competitive and productive credit union, as our contribution to people’s economic determination and our country’s development. Let us demonstrate the true co-operative principle.