DUBLIN, Ireland -- The debate whether credit unions make up a movement or an industry was taken to Dublin during the World Council of Credit Unions' 2006 World CU Conference.
Credit Union Times posed the movement vs. industry question to attendees from different countries. The majority of people said movement, but some had additional comments. Here are a few of them:
Penny Reeves, who is a director of CU Central Canada said, "Movement. We adhere to a lot of things that credit unions do that big financial institutions don't do such as international development, sharing profits with members and concern for the community."
John Davin is a new director with RTE Credit Union in Ireland. He felt there were three types of loans: commercial, personal and mortgages. Banks have a booming loan business while credit union loans are dropping. He feels that Irish credit unions are part of a movement, but that they are an inefficient one that needs to look to industry to see how to improve.
Maphamoli Elizabeth Lekoetje of Department of Co-ops in Kenya felt that credit unions are "a socially-based movement" that help in the development of communities and cited the tradition of nonprofit organizations.
Also from Kenya, Joseph Kigira Mwagi thinks credit unions are an industry. He said in his country "Co-ops are 45% of gross national product." No matter whether they are called a movement or an industry, it is his belief that co-operatives represent a national strategy for the growth of his country.
Mike Davenport, representing ABCUL, Britain's credit union trade association, insisted credit unions are a movement. In the UK, credit unions represent mostly the poor, but his wife, Sue, runs Leeds City Credit Union, one of the largest and most progressive credit unions in the UK. Mike added, that movements still need professional staff and know-how. A majority of UK credit unions are run by all- volunteer staff.
Daryl Seal of New Zealand called it a movement. "When one credit union gets in a spot of bother another credit union will come and help," he said. He can't imagine a bank giving a helping hand to a competitor.
Julian Kennelly of Australia felt down under it started out as a movement that has evolved into an industry. Despite mergers, taxation, the elimination of the common bond, he feels that credit unions still have some of the founding principles in place of providing social services to members.
Pete Crear, WOCCU's CEO who in all his speeches to the conference referred to it as a movement, stated. "It's a movement. End of story."