We remember that when Poland achieved political democracy, the leadership of the Solidarity trade union movement sent its young leaders abroad to study credit unions and pursue economic democracy as well.
Today we continue to see other movements in Eastern Europe pursue financial empowerment for their grassroots communities even within controlled political and economic systems.
Fledgling credit union groups in Belarus ask for help in growth strategies. We help them analyze their legislative framework, carry out strategic planning and expand their product offerings.
Startup credit unions in Tajikistan seek training to pool their savings and provide credit in remote communities that have never had access to finance. Credit union organizing and governance training teaches their citizens, from varying walks of life, basic principles of grassroots democracy, good governance and holding their elected officials accountable.
Market-based ideas of financial empowerment motivate community-level farmers, entrepreneurs and common folks. Credit unions provide members with a sense that their lives can be improved as a result of their own collective actions. Groups at the lower end of the economic spectrum are able to improve their standards of living and become more integrated into the market economy of their countries.
In Kazakhstan, there are 124 credit unions serving 16 thousand members and have USD$250 million in assets. The credit unions’ ability to mobilize deposits is limited by legislation and 90 percent of the portfolio is financed by credit extended by the state. We work with them to improve the legislative framework to mobilize withdrawable deposits from their local communities and pool local community savings to re-channel into local community loans.
Part of the basic contribution of credit unions in any society is empowering citizens to rely on themselves to improve their economic condition rather than to depend on state structures.
We always look for volunteers who can teach credit union principles, planning and operations in Russian. Please contact us if you are able to do so.
Thank you for your support.
President & Chief Executive Officer
World Council of Credit Unions