Britain's Credit Union Leaders Embrace Financial Inclusion Challenge

April 12, 2006

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What do financial inclusion, a wedding engagement and WOCCU's CEO all have in common?

They all took center stage at the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) Annual General Meeting in Blackpool, England, March 24- 26.

More than 500 delegates at the conference were eager to learn about credit union advocacy in the area of financial inclusion, as British credit unions were starting to apply for a portion of £36 million allocated by the government for improving access to affordable credit. Speakers discussed current progress in financial inclusion and the role of credit unions in the initiative, while workshops offered the opportunity to reflect upon the implementation of research findings by those working in the sector. The growth fund, managed by Britain's Department for Work and Pensions, aims to increase the availability of affordable credit. It must be used for lending, but a proportion of the fund is also available for costs incurred in lending.

WOCCU CEO Pete Crear gave the credit union activists an international perspective of the credit union movement. He shared about WOCCU's current projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, and the challenges they encounter. Roger Marshall, Head of Credit Unions at the Financial Services Authority, expanded on new regulatory challenges as credit unions expand their services.

"This [was] an ideal time for credit unions to meet and discuss the many opportunities and challenges that are now facing the movement," ABCUL CEO Mark Lyonette said. "I'm sure that [the] weekend's speakers, workshops, and discussions added to the enthusiasm and ambition of ABCUL credit unions, as they take on the challenge of providing quality credit union services for the people of Britain."

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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at