Credit Union Model Has Global Value

The cooperative values are reflected in the World Bank and IMF as countries collectively help one another improve their economies.


The World Bank has a new president: American Jim Yong Kim. Kim is the president of Dartmouth and a physician who has focused his career on campaigning for HIV/AIDS research and innovation. He is a unique pick in an organization run for 60 years by politicians, economists, defense experts, and bankers.

 “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency,” President Obama said in announcing his selection.

Those words ring true for cooperative financial institutions because credit unions define themselves by being community-oriented instead of being driven by shareholder profits. Credit union members lead credit unions.

The World Bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, were both constructed during the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. Both these international financial organizations have ideals and services that are similar to what credit unions offer.

The World Bank’s overall goal is to reduce poverty by providing loans to developing countries for capital programs. There are 187 member countries associated with the World Bank. This structure underscores credit unions’ seven basic principles, especially cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community. Credit unions are the institutions that help local people and small business grow, by making what big banks would call microloans. A credit union’s average member business loan balance is $200,814. Credit unions want to help the everyman, just as the World Bank wants to help smaller, impoverished nations become developing countries.

Reorganization and rehabilitation of the world’s payment system is the goal of the IMF, which is even more similar to how credit unions function. Member countries pool money through a quota system for temporary borrowing from countries with payment imbalances, working to better the economies of member countries. And the IMF always gets paid back, dollar for dollar.

Again the goals and values of the IMF correspond with those of credit unions. Members deposit money into the credit unions and in turn the institutions loan the capital to other members, for the betterment of the whole community. Whether by helping a struggling family stay in their home or furthering a small business that provides employment to the unemployed, credit unions are particularly attune to its community service.

Credit unions have been around since the mid-1800s and the philosophies of the cooperative community — self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity — have been around for even longer. Many institutions, not only local or national but global, are well aware of its advantages.


April 18, 2012



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