PARIS – In his relentless effort to help the have-less of the world, Arthur Arnold, CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), opened the Fifth International Leadership Conference in the City of Lights. The conference was titled “A World Without Borders.” There are now 6 billion “have-less” in the world, said Arnold, walking up and down the stage in his typical style and appearing to be talking to each of the 400 delegates personally. By 2050 that number is expected to grow to 8 billion. That means, the Dutchman added, there is still a lot of work for credit unions to do. For credit unions to enable millions to grow, certain things should be in place. For credit unions to be successful they need access, trust, self-help and growth, he said. Access can be as simple as a branch in a small African village or through technology. Trust is a major issue. He pointed out that in 90% of the countries today there is no legislation to back up credit unions. Therefore potential members risk everything they might be able to save without the proper regulatory back up. “No one likes to be dependent,” Arnold said. “Financial freedom reduces dependency.” When all the items are in place growth can occur. Lest anyone present at the meeting think that credit unions are not an economic force, Arnold pointed out that there are 108 million credit union members worldwide, but he added that 88 million were the have-mores, those with a reasonable standard of living. Both the have-mores and the have-less belong to 37,000 credit unions worldwide and have $466 billion in savings and have taken $371 billion in loans. Delegates from 28 countries were present to hear Arnold open the Conference. -