Iranian Credit Unions Reach Out to World Council of Credit Unions

March 01, 2005

L.R. (Bobby) McVeigh, WOCCU chairman, poses with Samen Credit Union directors and staff in Isfahan.

Madison, WI—Iranian credit unions extended an invitation to the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) board chairman, L.R. (Bobby) McVeigh, and chief executive officer (Interim) Brian Branch to meet in Iran and discuss the credit union system. WOCCU is currently building credit unions in other Islamic environments in Philippines, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. WOCCU officials traveled to Iran in February to study how credit unions were practicing democratic exercise and providing financial services in the Iranian Islamic Banking environment. Branch noted, "Credit unions develop as the democratic expression of people seeking to help themselves in all environments around the world."

There are currently 1,600 credit unions in Iran serving a reported 5 million members. After the Islamic Revolution and fall of the Shah,commercial banks were nationalized. Personal financial services were difficult for most people to access. Credit unions grew very rapidly. Most are small closed bond groups of less than 5,000 members, yet some are very large with state of the art technology. One credit union visited had 40,000 members and another had a million members. Credit unions serve the financial needs of both individual persons and small businesses.

WOCCU delegation with Mol_Al_Morahedin Credit Union board and staff during a credit union visit

Credit unions have operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Cooperatives and are now coming under the additional scrutiny of the Central Bank. WOCCU officials spent much of the visit explaining to credit union, Parliamentary, Ministry and Central Bank officials about how credit unions around the world are supervised. McVeigh explained, "Credit unions work with member's money and need sound prudential supervision. Yet at the same time, it is critical to protect the credit union uniqueness and its ability to provide services to those who otherwise do not have access." WOCCU officials pledged to assist the Iranian credit unions with adjusting to the process of increased supervision.

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

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