Dublin, Ireland—Addressing an audience of 1,850 on the final day of the World Credit Union Conference, popular economist David McWilliams told international credit union leaders that Irish credit unions are to blame for the widening of the country's middle class.
In a time when unemployment was at an all-time high and most people didn't have the resources to plan for the future, credit unions provided to people of modest and no means what was needed most—access to capital, McWilliams said. Without capital, people can only live for today and can't plan. If you don't plan, you can't postpone. Access to capital allows people to postpone current expenses for future social advancement, he said.
Irish Minister of Finance Brian Cowen closed the morning's session acknowledging the contribution the credit union movement has made and continues to make to Irish society. He welcomed the fact that the Irish movement is currently developing a strategy to meet the challenges of a changed economic and social environment. He also recognized that this conference had played a key role in supporting this process. The Minister congratulated the World Council on its development work, especially in Afghanistan to ensure that the Afghan people have access to credit to improve their lives.
The World Credit Union Conference, hosted by the World Council of Credit Unions and the Irish Credit Union League, brings together credit union leaders from 48 countries in every region in the world. Held this year in Dublin's Burlington Hotel, the conference attracted nearly a third more participants than the 2005 conference held in Rome.
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.