Credit Unions build a better world

THE 2011 International Credit Union Day theme highlights the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. Credit unions continually demonstrate their ability to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities and countries around the world, and have done so for generations. As we celebrate International Credit Union Day this October and prepare for the United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives in 2012, we celebrate, with more than 186 million people worldwide, that we’re all part of building a better world.

THE 2011 International Credit Union Day theme highlights the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. Credit unions continually demonstrate their ability to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities and countries around the world, and have done so for generations. As we celebrate International Credit Union Day this October and prepare for the United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives in 2012, we celebrate, with more than 186 million people worldwide, that we’re all part of building a better world.

On October 20, 2011, credit union members around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day, an event to commemorate the credit union movement’s impact and achievements.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that provide an effective and viable alternative to for-profit financial institutions for more than 184 million members in 97 countries worldwide. They exist to serve their members, providing a safe place to save money and access affordable loans. 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, “Credit Unions Build a Better World,” celebrates the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. It also aligns cooperatively owned and controlled credit unions with the greater cooperative business sector and the United Nations, which will launch the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 later this year.

About the Credit Union in Ireland

The Irish credit union movement was founded as a result of the efforts of three dynamic, pioneering and entrepreneurial people, namely Nora Herlihy, from Ballydesmond, a teacher based in Dublin; Sean Forde, an employee of Peter Kennedy Bakers, Dublin; and Séamus P. MacEoin, from Kilkenny, a Civil Servant working in Dublin.

In Dublin in the 1950’s, they witnessed the effects of high unemployment: sickness, malnutrition, money-lending, hunger, poor clothing, poor housing, and inevitably, emigration of one parent or of the whole family. In addition, state unemployment benefits were low and did not last indefinitely leaving many families in abject poverty.

The founders recognised the root of the problem as lying in the scare availability and poor management of money and resolved to identify a system that would allow people to gain more control over their finances.

What is a Credit Union?

A credit union is a group of people who save together and lend to each other at a fair and reasonable rate of interest. Credit unions offer members the chance to have control over their own finances by making their own savings work for them. Regular savings form a common pool of money, which in turn provides many benefits for members.

What are the benefits of a Credit Union?

A credit union is an organisation of people - for people. It exists only to serve its members - not to profit from their needs. Credit unions are non-sectarian and non-political, and continue that Irish tradition of co-operative self help.

In Ireland over 2.9 million members have recognised the value of credit unions and have savings approaching €11.9 billion. There are over 9,200 active volunteers involved in the movement, and over 3,500 people are employed.

It has been shown throughout history that by working together people can achieve far more through co-operation than by individual effort. The success of the credit union movements worldwide is a clear illustration of this. Credit unions have served their members well in Ireland, and as long as there are active members, they will continue to do so.