MADISON, Wis.—In response to the challenges facing credit unions and cooperatives worldwide, this year's International Credit Union (ICU) Day ® theme will remind people everywhere of the advantages that credit unions provide their members.
The idea for this year's ICU Day theme, "Your Money. Your Choice. Your Credit Union." came from Stan Cowan of A+ Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas, USA. The theme celebrates the reasons why 177 million people worldwide choose credit unions. Value, trust and service to members, all represented in the theme, are just a few of the many reasons credit unions are chosen by people seeking access to fair and affordable financial services.
"This year, more than ever, consumer finance and business experts have repeatedly highlighted credit unions as safe and sound institutions where people can depend on a trusting relationship," said World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President and CEO Pete Crear. "That is truly an accomplishment we can be proud of in these tumultuous times, and we should celebrate it this October."
Credit union leaders around the world agree that now is the time to come together and promote the credit union difference. "In a time of economic upheaval when control has largely been taken out of the hands of consumers, this year's theme demonstrates that members, through equal ownership and voting rights, are squarely in charge of their credit unions," said Dan Mica, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
"We are pleased to work with other national and international groups on the campaign to promote International Credit Union Day and Co-op Week," said David Phillips, president and CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada. "We work with these groups year round on projects that support important initiatives that help members around the world cope with trying economic times."
Manuel Rabines, 2nd Vice Chair of WOCCU and President of the Peruvian National Credit Union Association, agrees. "Like their colleagues around the world, credit unions in Peru continue to find new ways to serve their members through changing times," he said. "As a global movement, it's important we take time this year to demonstrate our strength and remind people about the many benefits we provide to our members."
ICU Day has been celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The celebration of Co-op Week that same week in Canada became a national event in 1982. In the U.S., October is also designated as National Cooperative Month celebrating all cooperatives including grocery, agricultural and energy co-ops, as well as credit unions.
"While today's economic times pose serious challenges, they also provide an opportunity for the co-operative sector to demonstrate the differences between co-ops and traditional business models," said Canadian Co-operative Association Executive Director Carol Hunter. "We know that people are increasingly interested in supporting organizations that are open, democratic and put people before profits, and that's what co-operatives and credit unions are all about."
Official ICU Day graphics are available to download on WOCCU's Website at www.woccu.org/icuday2009 and promotional materials such as sample advertisements and speeches will be available soon. A variety of promotional products will be available for purchase on CUNA's Website.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.