The Women's Southwest Federal Credit Union (WSFCU) was established in an effort to provide equal access to financial services for women in Dallas, TX. This community development credit union operates under the guiding principles of self-help, shared ownership, participatory democracy, and pride in service. While many other such institutions that began at the same time as WSFCU have since disbanded, WSFCU is still going strong with over 541 members and nearly $1million in assets.
WSFCU specializes in consumer lending and provides personal and other loans, including: signature loans, credit card loans, share secured loans, estate loans, and incentive loans. These loans are meant to meet the needs of individuals considered un-bankable by traditional banking institutions. Personalized loan programs, based on creditworthiness, are formed to fit the customer's specific needs.
In addition to joining WSFCU a member must be feminist and either belong to one of the thirty common bond groups that is affiliated with WSFCU or be a member of the immediate family of a current WSFCU member. In 2004 the credit union added an underserved area to their membership eligibility, enabling members of this community to join without having to pay a membership fee to a common bond group. While the majority of clients are female, qualified men are eligible for membership.
A variety of accounts, including savings and checking accounts, were added in 2005, and certificates of deposit (CDs). In an effort to be responsive to its members' needs, WSFCU continually reviews and adapts its products and services to change with the community. Services are tailored to the members' needs. Ex: For members with disabilities we tailor our services to meet their needs. If they need a check or want to make a deposit they are able to call the credit union and the staff will go outside and conduct business from their car. This saves time for members who are in wheelchairs and unable to get around easily.
Investments by individuals, as well as institutions such as Calvert Foundation, provide lending capital to WSFCU.
To join WSFCU, an individual must be a feminist, belong to one of the common bond groups affiliated with WSFCU, be a family member of a current member, or live, work, worship, or attend school in the "underserved" area. WSFCU serves the communities in and surrounding Dallas, TX and currently has over 541 members. A majority of the borrowers live in major urban areas. WSFCU serves all races, with 57% of clients representing minorities. Almost all borrowers are female, and roughly three quarters have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income.
Today, the credit union boasts over 2,600 accounts opened since 1974 and has over 30 common bond groups. In 2007, WSFCU operated a loan portfolio equaling $787,754.26. At the year-end of 2007, WSFCU's assets totaled $921,429.32 and their investments totaled $100,000. In 2007, WSFCU disbursed $291,250.18. in loans. With over 1 million in assets, WSFCU can make a significant difference in the lives of their 541 members.
For the 2007 tax year the credit union partnered with the IRS to provide free income tax service to members and community residents. We served 173 people and the credit union was able to save the average person $250.00 (low estimate) in fees they usually paid to income tax preparation places for preparation and rapid refund fees. Community residents/members received back $65,027 in earned income tax credit and a total of $184,039 in refunds. Sixty nine people received credit counseling services and of the 173 served 68 were already credit union members. Full Story