If It Walks Like a Co-op…

Credit unions are cooperatives. So why aren’t we shouting it from the roof tops? Whether they realize it or not credit union leaders make decisions in the best interest of their member owners and staff based on the 7 cooperative principles and demonstrate these values every day. As the International Year of Cooperatives comes to a close, it’s time to “talk” like a Co-op and promote and advertise the value these principles command.

The International Summit of Cooperatives organized by Desjardins and held in Quebec City Canada in October 2012, celebrated the role and sustainable model that co-ops have demonstrated throughout the world in a time when every society is looking for new business models. This first ever Summit hosted 2,800 attendees from 91 countries around the globe who represent 1 billion people in the cooperative movement, employ 100 million people, and generate billions in global revenue.

The cooperative model and cooperation among co-ops was a recurring message of the presenters at the conference. During his session, Bill Cheney, President/CEO of CUNA, said “CU*Answers, CO-OP Financial Services, CU Direct and CUNA Mutual are all good examples of cooperative leadership and collaboration in the United States that benefit the movement.”

CU*Answers, a cooperative of credit unions, has committed to promoting the cooperative business model and integrating the cooperative principles in their daily interactions. As examples, they pioneered the first methodology for measuring the cooperative health of a credit union with the Cooperative Score initiative (http://score.cuanswers.com/ ), are a leader in cooperative exam sharing, and have developed a cooperative entrepreneurship program with the Innovator’s Investment and Grant program.  In the upcoming month, they plan to unveil a “member-owner” campaign ready for credit unions to promote the cooperative principles to their members.