International Credit Union History  
International Credit Union History

International Credit Union Day 2016

One hundred and sixty-eight (168) years ago (1844 AD) the country of England gave birth to the very first Credit Union Movement. A group of professional weavers in Rochdale, sold financial shares to themselves to raise capital needed to purchase goods at lower than retail prices, then sold the said goods to themselves at a savings. In the same year (1844), Germany developed Co-operative Societies.

In the 1900's, poor people in Canada, mainly Quebec, found individual financial advancement through the organization of Credit Unions, much credit to Mr. Alphonse Desjardins the then pioneer. In 1909 the first Credit Union in the United States of America was founded in New Hampshire. The success of the Co-operative Movement in Canada influenced many Americans, including Mr. Pierre Jay of the Massachusetts Banking Commissioner and Mr. Edward Filene, a Boston Merchant. Pierre Jay and Edward Filene together with the local mind of Mr. Roy F. Bergengren fought the system extensively from 1909, that by 1935, thirty-nine (39) States across America had Credit Union Laws, and 3372 Credit Unions were formed serving 641,800 members. The unions banded themselves into leagues on state-wide basis, providing financial and legal advice, organizing know-how sessions, and creating an instrument for Credit Unions to seek favourable state legislation.

In 1954 the United States Credit Union National Association (CUNA) was established. Ten (10) years later CUNA became international, encompassing Credit Unions and Associations in Canada and Latin America. The rapid growth of Credit Unions in countries around the world, including emerging nations, created the need to form the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) in 1970. U.S. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) then returned to become a national organization and joined confederations in Canada, Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America and the Caribbean as members of the World Council. National and Regional Confederations concentrated on development and guidance of Credit Unions in their area, while the World Council emphasized overall progress of continuing utility of the world-wide movement.

Credit Unions have now expanded around the globe and their collective presence has made them an important part of their nation's financial system. As time passed on, the need arose for a specific day to celebrate and commemorate the impact that Credit Unions have made in the lives of millions of members and to honour the pioneers for their gifts, contributions and achievements over the years. The League of Massachusetts, USA celebrated the first official Credit Union holiday on January 17, 1927. At that time however, Credit Union development activity in the USA was so heavy that members either were too busy to celebrate, or too new to the movement to recognize the significance of their actions, thus after a brief trial the celebration ceased.

In 1948, CUNA Mutual Insurance Society set aside the third Thursday in October each year as the national day of observance that would bring people together to reflect upon their co-operative history, their union achievements and to promote the Credit Union idea across the country. All US Credit Union Leagues and many informal Credit Union chapters were encouraged to celebrate the new holiday in some way. This was to be a day for raising funds for the movement causes and to pay homage to the men and women who had dedicated their lives to Credit Union development.

Each year, new national movements join the Credit Union family and become interested in celebrating their uniqueness of unity. The idea of a special holiday became appealing to all regardless of religion, political beliefs, cultural differences or language. An array of Credit Unions and Leagues began to distribute publications, banners, slogans and kits and the day of honour and recognition grew to be acknowledged globally, and thus the world-wide exposure to International Credit Union Day became formalized.

By the year 1971 the world-wide Credit Union Movement had so progressed that the World Council of Credit Unions was created. International Credit Union Day materials were also created in 1971. Some of the activities held were open houses, picnics, fairs, festivals and parades, athletic competitions, television and radio interviews, newspaper and magazines/articles, children youth parties, poster and essay competitions.

On this day tributes are paid to past, present and future credit union leaders at banquets, dinners, also proclamations are made by important government officials. Within the membership of World Council of Credit Unions there are over 112 million people served by more than 36,901 Credit Unions in 93 nations around the globe who could celebrate International Credit Union Day/Week.