Credit unions: Founded on community service
From the Illinois Credit Union League
Thursday, Oct. 20, credit unions in our community and worldwide will come together to celebrate International Credit Union Day and the role that financial cooperatives play in improving the communities they serve and the lives of their members the world over. The theme of the event, “Credit Unions Build a Better World,” encapsulates what has long been the credit unions’ principal mission — creating value through member service.
In an era that continuously poses economic and financial challenges for people around the world, this theme honors credit unions’ principle of putting people before profits. It is the goal of all credit unions to offer access to affordable financial services to all their members and provide even the most financially disadvantaged the tools and the opportunity to be financially self-sufficient.
Credit unions are unique because they are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, member-owned cooperatives. Credit unions pool their members’ assets to provide low-cost loans and other financial services in the best interest of the members, not to earn shareholder profits. In 1848, Friedrich Raiffeisen, mayor of Flammersfeld, Germany, conceived the idea for a credit union to help ease the distress of farmers suffering from the famine that had struck his district.
Today, the credit union movement’s cooperative spirit is embraced by 183 million members served by 49,000 credit unions in 97 countries worldwide, working together to achieve economic progress. Credit unions play a vital role in the economic development and stability of the communities they serve, helping people improve their lives through access to affordable financial services and making the world a better place to live.
Since 1948, International Credit Union Day has been celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October. Each year, the international event affords the opportunity to remember credit unions’ proud history and promote awareness of and support for the credit union difference. This year’s theme also recognizes other types of cooperative businesses and serves to highlight their contributions to poverty alleviation, job creation and social integration. Oct. 31, 2011, credit unions will join the United Nations and cooperatives worldwide to celebrate 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. Help make our voice be heard.
Stellar member service and democratic control are just some of the many benefits of being a credit union or cooperative member. That’s as true of credit unions here in Rockford as it is in other cooperatively-owned financial institutions from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Cooperatives and credit unions are founded on community service, a principle that has distinguished them for more than 150 years.
Credit unions are recognized as a force for positive economic and social change and have provided significant value in both developed and emerging nations. International Credit Union Day is sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the international trade association and development agency for credit unions worldwide, and numerous national credit union trade associations and federations around the world. This International Credit Union Day, we hope everyone will join us in celebrating the credit union difference, our proud cooperative heritage and the wonderful opportunities credit unions and cooperatives offer members of the Rockford area community every day.
From the Oct. 19-25, 2011, issue
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