(March 31, 2010 – Brooklyn, New York) Proving that serving low-income people can still be good business, Samira Rajan, President/CEO of the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union (Brooklyn Cooperative), a community development credit union (CDCU) serving Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods, was recently named one of Crain’s New York Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40.” Compiled yearly, “40 Under 40” recognizes 40 New Yorkers who have excelled in their respective fields, from fashion to finance to the world of nonprofits, before turning 40.
Rajan, who came to Brooklyn Cooperative in 2001 after receiving her Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, began working for the credit union as an intern, but quickly moved up the ranks, becoming loan officer, then chief operating officer, and in 2008, chief executive officer.
The credit union, which itself was founded just one year prior to Rajan joining, has benefitted from her expertise. According to her “40 Under 40” profile, under Rajan’s tenure the CDCU has grown more than 23%, to $9.4 million in assets; its loan portfolio has increased by 32%, to $6.9 million in loans outstanding; and its membership has increased by 19%, to over 6,000 members. Since joining the credit union Rajan has also added a host of programs, including online banking, incentivized savings accounts, and free tax preparation for small businesses.
In addition to managing the credit union, Rajan is also director of Grow Brooklyn, the credit union’s non-profit affiliate, which allows the credit union to provide high-impact services it might otherwise not be able to support, such as foreclosure prevention services and free tax preparation to low-income members through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.
Rajan was also instumental in securing more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund in 2009, which allowed the credit union to open its second full-service branch in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically low-income and minority community adjacent to the CDCU’s original field of membership of Bushwick.
“It's easy to get carried away with the big vision of saving the world and lose sight of the day-to-day balancing of the books, which can be life or death for any credit union,” said National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions President/CEO Clifford N. Rosenthal, “Samira's not prone to hype and her attention to the credit union’s daily operations is a big reason why she has been so successful in growing the credit union. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Samira on various occasions and she is an outstanding representative not only for her credit union, but for CDCUs generally,” Rosenthal added.
When asked about the significance of being named to this prestegious list, Rajan explained that this is an honor for the credit union, as much as for her own work. “I really appreciate their recognition of Brooklyn Cooperative, especially now,” she explained. “The credit union just crossed $10 million in assets earlier this month, and we are embarking on a new marketing campaign later this quarter to highlight some of the significant improvements to our financial products. Our membership is increasing strongly, and we feel like we are at a real turning point for the organization. Crains’ vote of confidence is really the icing on the cake!”
“I'm hopeful that the Crain’s 'shout-out' to our movement will bring some well-deserved recognition to the work of credit unions and the value that we bring to the communities we serve,” she added.
To learn more about Ms. Rajan’s work and to view her video profile, please visit: http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/40under40/profiles/2010/10165.
© 2010 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.