Challenges of the Savings and Credit Cooperative Sector in Costa Rica

    Strategic alliances allow more agile progress and greater impact

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    Continuing with the adaptation of technology in the financial sector, the attraction of youth towards the cooperative model, cybersecurity and financial education are some of the challenges that savings and credit cooperatives envision in our country. During the forum “Savings and Credit Cooperatives of Costa Rica: Keys to Success and Future Challenges”, organized by Coopenae, with the support of FEDEAC and the College of Economic Sciences, issues related to this sector were analyzed, such as: the challenges and challenges towards the future, savings and credit cooperatives as engines of the economy, strategic alliances as a tool for competitiveness and leadership keys for success.

    José Eduardo Alvarado, general manager of Coopenae, explained that the cooperative model is in an important fight because the country needs companies that represent a boost to build a better Costa Rica. “We must renew our votes, vision and commitment to follow this business model that is doing something right to be where it is. For example, in 1995, a state bank was 104 times bigger than Coopenae; in 2022 that same state bank is 8.6 times bigger than Coopenae. We have invested a lot and we have made great efforts to be able to move forward”, explained Alvarado.

    Cooperatives represent 11% of the financial sector; however, work focused on people and their needs has made a difference in the country. “Cooperatives have the responsibility to improve the quality of life of the population, we have the obligation to generate wealth and distribute it among hundreds of thousands of associates who trust in this model to capitalize on it and make a cooperative exist. We have the obligation to give loans and savings, and provide financial services and products under better conditions and this is our reason for being”, explained Adrián Álvarez, Coopenae’s deputy general manager.


    To determine future challenges, it is important to take into account the risks currently facing the sector such as: cybersecurity, change in regulations, human capital management, digital disruption, among others. “We consider among the challenges is convincing people that when they need a loan, want to make savings, or need some financial service we are the first option because we are the best. There is strong competition in the financial sector; however, cooperatives have unique benefits. In addition, explaining to young people the impact of belonging to the cooperative model”, commented Álvarez.

    Another challenge is maintaining market share so that it continues to grow, investing in Financial Education and being able to help people who are indebted, as well as global and national geopolitical issues. Likewise, regulatory and corporate governance issues that are changing rapidly, digital transformation, cybersecurity, support for smaller cooperatives, business services and human resource management.

    Engines of economy

    Deputy Monserrat Ruiz expanded on all the collaboration that cooperative entities have given to Costa Rica. “Cooperatives provide economic support to many women within the national financial system, they have played a key role where there are not many direct opportunities for them and cooperatives have become competitive. I have been able to see how they are immersed in continuous innovation and have visualized social programs with important achievements in this matter”, assured Ruíz.

    The deputy mentioned that cooperatives allow business to be generated and open options for new generations. “It is important that young people discover all the benefits of this model and can dazzle their future with the generation of goals and dignified lives that cooperativism allows them”, said Ruiz.

    For his part, Francisco Montoya, general manager of Coopealianza, said that alliances between cooperatives are necessary in the country. “To guarantee sustainability there is only one route and that is to make strategic alliances as a competitiveness tool. An alliance can be made when there is synergy, affection and trust”, said Montoya.

    See you soon

    At the end of the forum, Mr. José Eduardo Alvarado took the opportunity to say goodbye to the entire cooperative and financial sector, after taking Coopenae forward in its 40 years of hard and tireless work.

    Resonance Costa Rica
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