Crear Shares US Credit Union Insight with Self-help Groups in India
Pete Crear, World Council President & CEO
Madison, WI—Seated in front of a camera
Madison, Wisconsin, for the Digital Video
Conference on Self-help Groups in India, Pete
Crear, President and CEO of World Council of
Credit Unions (WOCCU), shared insights from the
US credit union experience in microfinance with
Indian counterparts gathered in Chennai, India.
To date, microfinance in India has been
almost exclusively on the provision of
microcredit. As in other parts of the world,
people there are recognizing that the poor need
access to more than credit to work their way out
“It does not matter how big or how small,
need different types of financial services at
different stages in their lives,” Crear
commented. “Whether in India, the United States
or any other country, the challenge remains to
provide savings services that enable members to
accumulate wealth, take loans at affordable,
market-driven rates and purchase insurance to
mitigate their risk.” Money transfer services
are also important for members to be able to
send cash to their families.
Eighty percent of India’s more than one
people live on less than US$2 per day, and 34%
live on less than US$1 per day. Access to
affordable financial services can provide some
of these people with the tools they need to
increase their income, build household wealth
and create opportunities for their families to
break out of poverty.
Self-help groups are a step in the right
direction. Poor people, mostly from the same
socio-economic groups, form the small voluntary
associations to promote small savings among
members. The savings are pooled and kept in a
bank in the group’s name.
The potential is great in India for member-
financial institutions—from informal self-help
groups to more formalized credit unions—to fill
the huge unmet demand for financial services
among the poor. The US credit union experience
can provide tremendous lessons for self-help
groups in India. As Crear commented, most US
credit unions were established to provide small
savings and loan services to members who did not
have access to them anywhere else.
M. Kalyanasundaram, Chief Executive,
International Network of Alternative Financial
Institutions (INAFI) in India, M.P. Vasimalai,
Executive Director of the DHAN Foundation in
Chennai and Jeffrey Ashe, Manager of Community
Finance, Oxfam America in Boston, also joined
Crear on the teleconference panel. More than 50
microfinance professionals, leaders of self-help
groups, journalists and academics attended the
conference, which was sponsored by the United
States Consulate in Chennai.
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.
Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions