United Nations Recognizes Credit Unions As Key Component of Building Inclusive Financial Systems

January 20, 2006

Phone: (608) 395-2000

The United Nations (U.N.) officially ended its 2005 Year of Microcredit earlier this week by publishing "Building Inclusive Financial Sectors for Development." The document, known as the Blue Book, is the culmination of work by the United Nations and its exploration into how financial sectors can broaden access of financial services to help reduce poverty. The U.N. report recognizes that credit unions have been early innovators in microfinance and that "credit unions continue to show lower costs and higher efficiencies in delivering services than many other institutions and often target rural areas."

"We are pleased that credit unions are so prominently discussed in such an important U.N. document," indicated Dave Grace, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) senior manager of association services. "As government officials around the world look to increase access to financial services, they will be referencing this piece of work for years to come and seeing the important role that credit unions play in such efforts," continued Grace. U.N.'s Blue Book specifically mentions World Council of Credit Unions, its IRnet remittance service, and its credit union activities in Guatemala, Mexico, Senegal and Nicaragua.

Assuring that credit unions were appropriately represented in the U.N. report was no small task. World Council participated in two invitation-only stakeholder meetings, held by the United Nations in New York and Geneva and was selected as one of a handful of microfinance experts from around the world that the U.N. interviewed with regard to their opinions on building inclusive financial systems. WOCCU staff also conducted two targeted seminars for U.N. staff in 2005, participated in the Friends of the Year of Microcredit Committee, and reviewed various sections of the Blue Book in the weeks leading up to its publication.

The Blue Book can be accessed on-line at /pub/index.php?get_page=contents.

WOCCU has held special observer status with the United Nations since 1978.

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