Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of cooperatives is that they all apply set principles and values to fulfill their respective visions and missions. The seven principles, established by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1995, include member economic participation and concern for community. The 12 cooperative values include self-help, equality and honesty. Together, these guidelines set co-ops-including credit unions-apart from all other business models and demonstrate a commitment to creating a better world, starting in the communities we call home.

In my years of working with cooperatives, it has become especially clear to me that more cooperatives need to embrace the sixth principle: cooperation among cooperatives. Everyone benefits when cooperatives support each other. A business partnership between two co-ops means that both cooperatives now have an opportunity to expand and grow, creating strategies for both sustainability and, ultimately, increased member value. By working together, cooperatives make a greater impact throughout their communities through job creation, an increased sense of ownership among constituents and respect for the democratic process.

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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