WHAT was formerly known as the Telephone Workers Credit Union Co-operative Society will now be officially known as TWCU Cooperative Society Ltd, as the society marks its 70-year anniversary with an almost entirely new image.
TWCU recently hosted a ceremony, marking the start of its anniversary celebrations ahead of the May 25 date. The ceremony saw the launch of a new logo, as well as the expansion of its vision, products and services.
The previous name was derived from a common bond, which the members shared as workers of the TT Consolidated Telephone Company (now TSTT). The credit union was formed with just 38 members and $51 in share capital, and has since grown to over 5,000 members with an asset base of more than $438 million (as at December 2018).
Acting Commissioner for C-operative Development Andrea McKenna gave the feature address at the ceremony and lauded the company for its tenacity and care for its membership.
"Your company can be considered a beacon of strength and security to its members," McKenna said.
"Your achievement here today has demonstrated that amidst the rigorous economic conditions, your organisation truly stands as an illustration of the resilience of (a) value-based credit union model.
"Your credit union has always built its strength on volunteering as you have donated your time since inception to make sure that your members' needs are satisfied, recognising that your voluntary service is so valuable to your members that it is literally priceless and for this I commend you.
She said the credit union was established when wages among telephone workers and the wider society were generally low but provided a platform for its members to grow.
"You can boast that your credit union has enhanced the lives of the members by the provision of loans for education and (to) finance household expenses," McKenna said.
"As you continue to embrace change, I would encourage you to shift your focus to develop your small business loan portfolio and to foster entrepreneurship among members.
TWCU director Trevor Alleyne, addressing the audience, said the company has remained resilient because of its propensity to embrace change and welcome new ways of conducting business.
"Throughout our 70 years of existence, change has been the catalyst for our growth and development. Change, through membership and environmental factors, has shaped society's character and defined our progress," he said.
"From the vision and zeal of our early pioneers, through the dedication of our stalwarts to whom the baton was passed from time to time and the commitment to the legacy inherited by our present members."
He highlighted changes that came with each passing decade since its establishment, starting in the 1950s when he said, "early pioneers were dedicated to the nurturing and strengthening of the co-operative idea within the common bond (TT Consolidated Telephone Company)."
Its second decade of operations, Alleyne said, saw changes within the working environment.
"In the aftermath of the prolonged industrial strike of 123 days, the workplace environment was restructured to become TT Telephone Company Ltd.
"Members earned better incomes that made savings easier, which boosted support for the credit union."
The 1970s, he highlighted, also saw changes in tandem with the rise of social movements.
"As a result of the black power social unrest, the government of the day embarked on assistance to co-operative development as a socio-economic strategy," Alleyne said, adding that credit union members earned tax exemptions on credit union share savings, which boosted membership and contributed to the credit union's growth.
During the 1980s, the credit union introduced computerisation of operations and acquired offices on Henry Street, Port of Spain.
"The fifth decade...Our society endured and survived the collateral effects of the attempted coup and assault on the democracy of the nation. We suffered financial loss and property damage and was not indemnified by insurance," Alleyne said.
"Unfazed, we continued operations and went on to launch in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (for the) national schools choral speaking (programme) that was sponsored for 15 consecutive years in which over 3,000 students participated (annually).
He said with there was greater change with the turn of the millennium.
"Our society, along with the local and global community, was prepared to mitigate the technological concerns at the advent of the 21st century. We, like the local and global community breathed a sigh of relief."
The following decade, the 2010s saw the introduction of new management operating systems. It moved from volunteer management to paid management, as well as the introduction of a youth arm, which was intended for succession planning.
"(With the 2020s), as we celebrate our 70th anniversary this year, moving towards our eighth decade, once again, we respond to the change in the evolving dynamics of the era," Alleyne said.
TWCU says while the name change may seem minor, it is significant as it removes all perceived limitations and opens its bond to all.