HONG KONG — Credit unions worldwide continue to grow and make progress even as they strive to adapt to shifting economic, social, political and even conflict situations, according to WOCCU CEO Pete Crear.

Addressing attendees at WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference, Crear outlined the progress credit unions have made in helping countries around the world build and deepen their middle classes, an economic strata he described as not impoverished and not unduly wealthy.

Such middle classes are critical to the growth of stable economies and societies, Crear said, and require a mixture of individual initiative and institutional support. Credit unions with their sole focus on their members provide a strong avenue toward that institutional support.

He also shared statistics with the attendees, reporting that according to the WOCCU 2007 Statistical Report, credit unions worldwide grew at an overall rate of 3% in 2007 with many national credit union industries far surpassing that. Ecuador, for example saw 36% growth in its CU growth, Brazil saw 50%, Costa Rica 55% for two years. CU’s in Poland grew 45% Ukraine 66%, and Uzbekistan over 100%, Crear reported.