CO-OPERATIVES are unique types of businesses defined as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprises.
In Saint Lucia, people have always had traditional ways of working together for mutual benefit with ‘Sou-sou’ and ‘coupe-de-main’ being amongst the most commonly used where financial transactions are involved. Though these methods still exist, a more sophisticated and accessible variation to this concept was developed in the form of Credit Unions. A Credit Union is a type of co-operative which provides financial services to its members and are often compared to a bank.
In Saint Lucia there are sixteen Credit Unions which serve an aggregate membership of 87,074. The local Credit Union movement has been able to amass an asset base in excess of $670,000,000. During the month of October, Credit Union volunteers, staff and members in Saint Lucia, will unite in celebration of Credit Union Month and under this year’s theme of, ‘The Authentic Difference,’ volunteers, staff and members will celebrate what makes Credit Unions truly unique.
Credit Unions differ from other business types in their philosophy in three broad respects namely, Nature, Purpose and Method.
Credit Unions Nature is organized people, their Purpose is to serve members and their Methods are;
i. One member one vote,
ii. Capital is paid minimum interest and
iii. Surpluses are divided among members in proportion to patronage.
“Non-profit, member-owned, democratic control and social responsibility,” are a few terms that describe the operations of the global Credit Union Movement and highlight the fundamental difference between Credit Unions and other financial institutions.
As your credit union joins in this unique and exciting celebration, remember that you are accompanied by 223 million people in 109 countries who also acknowledge and celebrate the Authentic Credit Union Difference!
Happy International Credit Union Day from the St. Lucia Co-operative Credit Union