MADISON, Wis. — This year's International Credit Union (ICU) Day® theme, "Credit Unions Build a Better World," celebrates the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities worldwide. It also aligns cooperatively owned and controlled credit unions with the greater cooperative business sector and the United Nations as they launch the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 later this year.
"Credit unions continually demonstrate their ability to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities and countries around the world and have done so for generations," said Pete Crear, president and CEO of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). "As we celebrate International Credit Union Day this October and prepare for the United Nations' International Year of Cooperatives in 2012, we would do well to remember that we're all part of building a better world."
Cooperatives will be celebrated throughout the month of October with Co-op Month in the United States, Co-op Week in Canada, Oct. 16-22, and ICU Day celebrations on Oct. 20. The International Year of Cooperatives 2012 officially begins Oct. 31, 2011, when cooperatives worldwide will unite in celebration with the theme "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World." For more information about how credit unions can get involved with the International Year of Cooperatives, visit www.woccu.org/iyc2012.
"We need more people to recognize that credit unions as member-owned cooperatives are the best option for financial services," said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of Credit Union National Association (CUNA). "With the designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness. And tying in this year's ICU Day theme with the larger International Year of Co-ops event will create synergy to further help consumers, policymakers and those in the media better understand that the cooperative model is a proven means of improving people's lives and building a better world."
Cooperative businesses in the United States have celebrated Co-op Month since 1930. Throughout the month, the U.S. National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) works across cooperative sectors to promote the cooperative business model. NCBA continually strives to make cooperatives a key component of U.S. economic development policy by proposing legislative and regulatory changes that enable the sector's growth.
"It is fitting that this international group of cooperative organizations has come together to do what cooperative enterprise does so well — leverage resources for the mutual benefit of those that use them," said Paul Hazen, NCBA president and CEO. "The truth of the slogan can be found wherever you find cooperative enterprise. Cooperatives put people first and respond to needs of their member owners."
Canadians celebrate Co-op Week during the third week of October, which coincides with ICU Day.
"We are delighted that co-operatives in both Canada and the United States — and credit unions around the world — will be promoting the theme of the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives during Co-op Week, Co-op Month and International Credit Union Day 2011," said Carol Hunter, executive director of Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA). "It's a wonderful opportunity to start spreading the word that co-ops and credit unions build better communities, better societies and a better world."
David Phillips, president and CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada (Canadian Central), added: "Credit unions are unique in the way they conduct business and serve members, and the International Year of Co-operatives gives us a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate this at a global level. We welcome the chance to showcase our community economic development initiatives, our community-based sponsorship programs and our ongoing commitment to helping members achieve their financial goals."
An international committee of representatives from WOCCU, CUNA, Canadian Central, NCBA, CCA, Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité (CCCM - Canada) and Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité (CQCM - Canada) collaborated to align the theme and artwork for their annual events with the United Nations' unprecedented global recognition of cooperatives.
Official ICU Day posters and promotional materials such as sample advertisements and speeches are available for download on WOCCU's website at www.woccu.org/icuday. A variety of promotional products will soon be offered for purchase on CUNA's website at www.cuna.org/finlit/icuday_index.html.
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, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.