UN Recognizes Credit Union Role in Rural Employment

August 15, 2006

Credit unions took stage at a recent United Nations (UN) gathering of international experts on cooperatives and employment in Shanghai, China.

The Division for Social Policy and Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs organized the "expert group meeting" to discuss recommendations for the UN General Assembly on the role of cooperatives in promoting job creation and social inclusion as means to reducing poverty. The meeting served as a follow-up forum to the Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995, where commitments were made to reduce poverty through job creation and social inclusion.

John Ikeda, World Council business development manager, gave voice to credit unions at the meeting and advocated on their behalf for mention in the report. The group's final recommendations addressed governments, national cooperative movements, UN agencies, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), international institutions, donor agencies and cooperatives themselves. The report promoted the role credit unions—one of the largest providers of microfinance services in the world—through a number of proposals to:

  • create credit union specific legislation and supervision;
  • promote the technical assistance credit unions provide;
  • suggest the ICA help member cooperatives forge partnerships with credit unions to expand the outreach of microfinance;
  • support microfinance and other employment- creating financial services through credit unions in developing countries.

The UN has increasingly recognized cooperatives as the answer to economic development in areas where both public and private sectors have failed or have not entered. With global unemployment rates on the rise, cooperatives are looked to as prime facilitators in job creation because of their commitment to social justice.

The UN also recognized the important role of credit unions in building inclusive financial systems in their 2005 Blue Book Report, which was a set of guidelines and suggestions for governments following the "Year of Microcredit".

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