CAPE TOWN, South Africa – It’s been a busy year for the Savings and Cooperative League of South Africa (SACCOL). Over the past six months 11 applications for membership have been received and seven have been accepted. SACCOL believes this is a great achievement by their members in financially empowering themselves for a better future. However, a problem that has been occupying the SACCOL board has been entrepreneurs and for-profit companies, “who want to ride on the good name that credit unions have established internationally for personal gain,” according to SACCOL General Manager David De Jong. “Some credit unions will not register with us because these guidelines don’t suit their hidden motivation,” said De Jong. He said two types of groups were incorrectly using the name credit union. The first are credit unions that simply don’t want to follow the rules, and by not joining SACCOL, they remain unregulated, De Jong said. De Jong feels the second is more dangerous, because they play upon the good reputation of credit unions. He terms them “pseudo credit unions”. They are often set up by franchises, bureaus, loan finance companies and IT companies who declare the members incapable of running the institution themselves and thus give themselves the power to manipulate the funds. De Jong said, “Credit unions internationally are about empowering people to help themselves. The philosophy of credit unions is about teaching people to take control and manage their own affairs. There is no instant solution to credit union development anywhere in the world and South Africa is no exception. The developed credit union movements we marvel at around the world have taken the better part of 60 to 100 years to develop. Our movement is only six years young to-date. “Our fear is if something goes wrong, and people lose their hard earned money, we are not in a position to help sort this out,” De Jong added. “As a development organization we provide expertise and advice on how to best run a credit union within the World Council’s of Credit Union’s internationally recognized guidelines.” In a recent news release, SACCOL gave their Web site address, www.saccol.org.za, for people to use to check for the legitimacy of a credit union. SACCOL said it will also take written and phone inquiries. About 10,000 members belong to South African credit unions. – dlnelson7@hotmail.com