Why Celebrate International Credit Union Day?

This entry was posted by Thursday, 9 September, 2010
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International Credit Union Day is on the horizon (October 21, 2010). Credit unions who celebrate with posters or events help raise awareness about how credit unions impact the lives of 186 million people in 97 countries.

While those numbers are impressive, there are still so many around the world without access to basic financial services. They are subjected to loan sharks, hiding their life savings in mattresses, or taking long and dangerous trips just to visit the nearest financial institution.

That’s why the work of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is so important. Part of WOCCU’s role is to empower people across the globe with access to financial services through promoting the sustainable development of credit unions and financial cooperatives.

It’s also one of the most important reasons for celebrating International Credit Union Day; to raise awareness about how credit union principles truly change people’s lives. Promoting the world-wide impact of credit unions creates new and unique opportunities for the Credit Union Movement as well as for individual credit unions.

For example, learning about credit unions’ international impact is a major reason I’ve worked for credit unions these past 7 years. One story that has stuck with me was of Lois Kitsch‘s experience with a newly formed credit union in a remote area of the world during her time with WOCCU. (As I paraphrase Lois’ story, I hope I do it justice.)

ICU Day is also a great time to look back on how CUs came to be. Click above for a graphic history from CUNA's MoneyMix

As I recall, a small loan from the newly formed credit union–something like $10–enabled a woman to purchase a tarp. The woman prepared and sold food to villagers to earn a living. But when the rainy season hit, she was unable to prepare food because the rain extinguished her fire. This left the woman unable to earn money until the rainy season had subsided.

Acquiring the tarp allowed her to protect her food preparation from the rain and she was able to earn a living throughout the year. As a result, the woman was then empowered to expand her business and provide a laundry service.

She was able to improve the quality of life for her family as well as her community… and all it took was a $10 loan.

Pretty incredible, eh? I certainly thought so. Lois’ experience demonstrates the power credit unions can have and it left me feeling like I needed to get more involved with the Movement.

So, what was the most successful International Credit Union Day celebration for your credit union? How will your credit union celebrate it this year and raise awareness about how credit unions change lives?

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  1. Happy International Credit Union Day & a message from CUNA Pres/CEO Bill Cheney @ CUNAverse

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