Murmurings Podcast #2 – Nanci Wilson’s Seeds-2-$ave & Backpack Exchange Projects

8/1/16 | | Comments (2)


Each episode of Murmurings, the National Credit Union Foundation podcast, highlights individual and organizational best practices around financial education, financial capability, philosophy and philanthropy in the credit union movement. You can check out the first podcast about Atomic Credit Union’s Biz Kid$ Piggy Bank Hunt here.

In this podcast, we interview credit union professional Nanci Wilson from North Star Community Credit Union. Nanci went through the Foundation’s Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training last year and hit the ground running, making a difference at her credit union and community in a variety of ways.

We talk to Nanci mainly about two exciting projects that continue to grow in a short amount of time: Seeds-2-$ave and the Backpack Exchange at her credit union. Seeds-2-$ave helps children learn entrepreneurship by planting, growing, picking and selling their very own vegetables under the tagline “Teaching our youth to nurture their funds to a bountiful growth.” The Backpack Exchange is a community program where the credit union accepts gently used backpack donations throughout the year, cleans then up, and fills them with donated school supplies and host an exchange day for area children. Both projects continue to garner media attention as well as from North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp! We talk about all that, credit union philosophy, inspiration and more in this episode.

“I truly believe that anything that fuels your passion for ‘people helping people’ is worth exploring.” – Nanci Wilson

You can download/stream online here or listen below:


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2 Responses to “Murmurings Podcast #2 – Nanci Wilson’s Seeds-2-$ave & Backpack Exchange Projects”

  1. Dennis L. Sharpe, Ph.D., CCUE, CUDE says:

    As a Credit Union Development Educator, I am preparing for my fourth cooperative development assignment to Africa (one in Ethiopia).

    I thought that you might be interested in the following credit union assignments:

    Formerly, I was the President/CEO of the EdCo Community Credit Union (Des Moines, Iowa), the President/CEO of the Sunnyside Financial Community Credit Union (Kenosha, Wisconsin) and the Treasurer/Manager of the Snap-on Credit Union (Kenosha, Wisconsin).

    While serving as President/CEO of EdCo (Educational) Community Credit Union (Des Moines, Iowa) I was selected to be the Project Manager in charge of reintroducing cooperative banks (credit unions) into the republics of the former Soviet Union. The multi-year project included working with a network of 97 agencies (in 44 states).

    In addition to having served as a consultant (for various organizations) in numerous overseas assignments, I served as a consultant for ACDI/VOCA in Moldova, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, and Russia:

    •My first assignment was in Moldova. Working with the Manager of the Nimoreni Farmers Association, I was to: become fully acquainted with the activities of the Association, as well as its affiliated cooperatives; review the community’s experiences with credit programs over the past three years and determine the lessons learned; identify the constraints to establishing a mutual savings and loan system in the community and propose solutions to overcoming such challenges; if a model credit union were determined feasible, propose steps necessary to promote and inaugurate such a model, including measures to monitor development in order that applicable lessons might be applied elsewhere in Moldova; propose the measures necessary to duplicate lessons learned from a potential model Nimoreni credit union in other parts of Moldova. All phases of the project were covered and completed.

    •My second assignment was in Kazakhstan. Using the Fund for the Development of Small Businesses’ (FDSB) facilities and technical support, I was expected to assist in a pilot project for the development of rural credit cooperatives/credit unions in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, I was expected to: provide hands on assistance to the FDSB in developing a pilot credit union/credit cooperative. Part of the assistance was to include meeting with the FDSB management and explaining typical operations of a credit union and what steps should be taken to develop a credit union under the current laws and/or regulations of Kazakhstan; conduct a quick assessment of rural credit infrastructure in Kazakhstan; meet with representatives of NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) and international development organizations conducting credit projects in Kazakhstan; if need be, provide initial guidance for taking the steps needed to draft a new “Law on Credit Unions” and/or amend the current “Law on Credit Partnerships.” All phases of the project were covered and completed.

    •My third assignment was in Ethiopia. The objective of this assignment was to identify problems/constraints in the development of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SCCs) and present recommendations and plans on how best to alleviate them. The second objective of this assignment was to review the feasibility of forming a Savings and Credit Cooperative Union (SCCU) and its impact on SCC sector growth. If SCCUs were deemed to be appropriate and feasible, I was to develop plans and guidelines to establish Savings and Credit Cooperative Unions in Ethiopia. All phases of the project were covered and completed.

    · My fourth assignment was in Russia. The objective of this assignment will be to meet with the managers of two credit union (cooperative) associations; become familiar with their operations (and current problems) related to human resources management and offer recommendations. All phases of the project were covered and completed.

    In addition (to working with ACDI/VOCA), I co-authored a grant proposal to initiate credit unions in the republics of the former Soviet Union; I was selected by the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee to teach credit union operations; I served as a Russian business consultant and member of the Administrative Team of the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation’s medical exchange to Russia (delivering medical supplies and initiating medical credit unions); I served as a Coordinator for the forming of credit unions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; and I served as a member of the Iowa Delegation to the former Soviet Union (to study the Soviet Union’s banking system).

    Dennis L. Sharpe, Ph.D., CCUE, CUDE
    7892 Freshwater Drive
    Spanish Fort, AL 36527
    251-621-5560 (Home)
    256-507-1279 (Cell)

  2. Dennis L. Sharpe, Ph.D., CCUE, CUDE says:


    As a CUDE graduate, I am preparing to go on a fourth cooperative development assignment to Africa. The assignment will be in Ghana for ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural Cooperative Development/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance).

    My last assignment to Africa (for ACDI/VOCA) was a 5 week assignment to Ethiopia. The purpose of the assignment was to transfer knowledge to cooperative promoters in Ethiopia so that they could further transfer this knowledge to rural people managing Ethiopian Savings and Credit Cooperatives.

    I was working with the Savings and Credit Cooperatives to assist rural Ethiopians in improving their own capacities in effectively managing their economic livelihoods. To quote Gandhi, “Not even God would come to a starving man, except as a loaf of bread.”

    At first glance, you may feel that this “transfer of knowledge” is beyond the ability of rural people to understand and apply. However, it has been proven that rural people are capable and eager to learn and apply such knowledge.

    I have learned that rural people in the world’s developing countries are just like anyone else, i.e., they are business people looking for a better opportunity to better their standard of living. They are no different from Wall Street Investors, millionaire traders, small business people, or you and me.

    Organizations like ACDI/VOCA, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Council of Credit Unions, etc., are actively promoting the growth of cooperatives. A cooperative exemplifies (perhaps more than any other type of financial institution) economic democracy. It has been said that, “The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

    I have been asked, “Why would you go to Africa? You are not paid, except for your expenses, so why do it?”

    In answer, I offer the words of another “Consultant” who went to Africa:

    “It is not enough to merely exist. It is not enough to say ‘I am earning enough to live and support my family. I do my work well, I am a good church-goer.’ That’s all very well. But you must so something more. Seek always to do some good somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to make his self more noble and to realize his own true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it is a little thing, do something for those who have need of a man’s help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don’t live in a world all on your own. Your brothers live here, too.” —Dr. Albert Schweitzer

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