Why do we care about the international credit union community?

We build, champion, defend and grow a global credit union community that improves lives. Why do we care?

Credit unions improve lives. Credit unions provide many with their first access to financial services. In country after country, we have seen how credit unions help people provide better food and shelter for their families. In places like Ethiopia, credit unions provide food security through simultaneous access to better irrigation and finance for crops. This builds a sustainable cycle of crop harvest, savings and financing for the next crop so that families can withstand periodic droughts. We also see how credit unions help their members educate their children to achieve a better life.

Credit unions empower and champion the common person. Credit unions provide people with financial dignity. This is why we work to introduce democracy through credit union grassroots operations in Cuba.

Credit unions provide people access to financial services when and where no other institution will. In the conflict areas of Ukraine, credit unions are the only remaining institutions that offer families financing for small enterprises and employment. Credit unions serve small account holders and make the small loans that other institutions do not.

Credit unions offer a fairer price for services. Credit unions put members’ benefits before the profit of the institution. Credit unions provide a competitive alternative to other financial institutions, which charge higher prices and extract profit from consumers. This alternative keeps prices down and allows members to retain greater consumer surplus themselves.

We already do these things in our own country. If we just keep doing this at home, we are doing good work. So, why do we care about the international credit union community?

Supporting credit unions’ ability to provide these services worldwide allows us to improve lives of the poor, marginalized and underserved. This makes for a better and safer world. It is the right thing to do, but how does it help us at home?

Many of us have family ties or heritage across borders. Credit unions help family members financially connect abroad and strengthen remittance ties. These ties have been very important to credit union development in Poland, Mexico and Cuba.

To strengthen the positive image and to champion the credit union model, we point to local credit unions’ efforts to improve lives around the world. We highlight the contributions, volunteer work and hospitality that our own credit unions provide to credit unions serving the poor, establishing access for those who never had access before, and strengthening their operations. When we champion credit unions’ work—locally and internationally—to empower members, support their communities and support democracy, we raise public visibility and support among policy makers.

Today, international standard setters often affect local regulation and legislation. International standard setters are more open to consider standards less damaging and more friendly to credit unions when we communicate credit unions’ role in financial inclusion worldwide—providing the underserved access to financial services. International standard setters are more inclined to be supportive when we stand from a position of strength. The international exchange of best practices, training, technical assistance and management systems builds a safe and secure international credit union system that protects each country’s brand quality and safety and soundness in the eyes of international standard setters and national regulators. International standard setters are more likely to respond to constituents of scale—both in terms of numbers and inter-connectedness. The growth of the global credit union system through Vision 2020 and the networking of the international system through the World Council give international standard setters a consistent channel to vet their emerging standards and to gather input from our 105-country credit union community.

Why do we care about the international credit union community? We care because we belong to something larger than ourselves. We care because we want to support and participate in the good work that credit unions do around the world to improve lives. We also care because the international credit union system helps us achieve better local and international policy framework for all our institutions.

Brian Branch

Brian Branch

Dr. Brian Branch, president and CEO of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), was appointed in 2011. Dr. Branch has worked at WOCCU since 1990 and has been engaged in ... Web: www.woccu.org Details

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