2017 Applicant: Sandra Cano

Sandra Cano is a 33-year-old AVP Community Development at Navigant Credit Union ($1,747M) in Smithfield, Rhode Island, United States.

Project Title
Turning risk into an opportunity, changing underserved to "emerging market" focused on the small business commUnity!

Short Pitch
My project identifies needs, creates innovative products as well as develops the necessary policies for the small business community that reflect the cultural differences of the emerging market while protecting the financial responsibility to our members.

When credit unions discuss underserved markets, the general perception is that of high risk. This perception drives the strategy of how markets are addressed and the efforts put into them. The reason why I believe credit unions are successful is because of their community based spirit as well as their investment at the grassroots level where the impact is felt greatly. The credit union mindset in understanding the underserved market must shift towards exploring the potential of that market. Currently at Navigant Credit Union, we refer to this sector not as underserved, but rather as emerging and this change of culture has proven to be a recipe for success.

My project concentrates on the impact of changing perceptions and culture in the credit union industry from seeing poor, underserved markets to seeing the possibilities in emerging markets, with outreach specifically to the small business community. This strategy will help credit unions achieve membership growth, strengthen the credit union brand as a trusted community partner and will help develop new products and services to close the gaps in the needs of this emerging community. Navigant Credit Union has been paving the way to serve the market better as we have developed products that have received both national and state recognition.

As we continue to learn and adapt our strategy to make progress, this project will help other credit unions understand that a diverse member base facing cultural challenges can create a competitive advantage and can turn risk into an opportunity!

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