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MADISON, Wis. – Lucy Ito, vice president of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) joined a distinguished panel of speakers from the Canadian Cooperative Association, the University of Leicester and the World Bank, in a United Nations-hosted discussion on “Society and Cooperatives: Concern for Community” that was held in observance of International Day of Cooperatives. Speaking to an audience of UN delegates, staff and journalists, Ito addressed practical strategies and best practices to alleviate poverty and develop communities through credit unions. Credit unions, said Ito, are reaching out to a diverse membership, including low-income individuals, and this ensures the integration of the poor into the mainstream. WOCCU’s development project results show this is a more effective way than the conventional approach to alleviate poverty, which she said eventually leads to alienation. Many micro-credit programs for the poor focus only on providing small loans, but WOCCU said this is only part of the solution and it’s not responsive to the savings needs of households and communities. The most important practices organizations, including credit unions can put into place are financial disciplines and prudential standards to protect the life savings of their depositors, said Ito.

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