FOGCE FCU in Eutaw, AL, formerly called the Federation of Greene Country Employees Federal Credit Union, may be labeled “small” at $1.4 million in assets and almost 800 members, when you consider the population of this rural county is less than 8,500 people, they have almost 10 percent market share of the county’s total population.
Cathie Mahon, president/CEO of National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, recently traveled with Dan Letendre, Senior VP at Bank of America and a long-time CDFI credit union supporter, to meet with the FOGCE FCU board. Also present were Carol and John Zippert, founding members of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which serves rural and urban communities through cooperative economic development, land retention, and advocacy to build collective wealth throughout the South. Carol Zippert is also president and founder of FOGCE, which was created to serve the underserved residents of Greene County Alabama, one of the most impoverished counties in the nation. Under Carol’s stewardship, the assets of the credit union have grown from $25,000 when it first opened to $1.4 million in 2018.
Mahon applauded the credit union’s success in the community, saying, “And despite Greene County’s high rates of poverty, FOGCE FCU has delinquency rates below 1 percent. How do they keep delinquency so low? As community organizers, FOGCE staff know what resonates with their members, always reminding them that the money they’re borrowing is from the community — that this money comes from your neighbors’ savings.”
A few years ago, FOGCE is also credited with driving out the community’s only pay day lender by making it known it was clearly the better choice for individuals.
“This trip drove home the Federation’s recognition of the importance of supporting these strong and committed “hyper-local” financial institutions, which serve as the best — or often, the only — real choice for low-income individuals and families.,” Mahon said. “We’re proud to have credit unions like FOGCE FCU in our membership because the financial access they provide to these communities truly embodies the spirit of financial inclusion.”