British Credit Union Historical Society

Credit unions’ reach within Europe

Credit unions trace their roots to the humble beginning in 19th century Europe. Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch established the first credit unions in the 1850s in Germany to give those lacking access to financial services the opportunity to borrow from the savings pooled by themselves and their fellow members. Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen transported the financial cooperative concept to rural Germany a decade later.

Today in 2016, credit unions operate in a number of European countries including in the Republic of Ireland, Estonia, Romania, Poland, the United Kingdom and Macedonia. Credit unions make an important contribution to the European social economy by supporting thousands of communities and more than 7 million European households with affordable financial services.


Romanian Credit Union History

Credit unions have a long history in Romania - there are about 2,000 credit unions at the moment, many of which are members of UNCAR, their largest trade association. Credit unions started in Romania in the late 19th century , and grew strongly during the period between the two world wars.  During the communist period, credit unions were in fact encouraged and in many industrial sectors credit union membership was mandatory.  Since the fall of communism, credit unions are having to compete in a more complex financial market place and hence their interest in learning from other countries.  Credit union legislation and regulation differs between UK and Romania - an issue that will be looked at on the visit.  There are about 1 million members of UNCAR credit unions - plus another 1.5 million members of pensioner credit unions but these operate under a different law.

Romanian Credit Unions visit the Northwest Credit Unions

The visit of our Romanian credit union friends to Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire in June and Novemberof 2015 turned out to be a fantastic and overwhelming experience of international co-operation, collaboration and friendship.
Thanks must go to everyone who took part and who welcomed the visitors so warmly.  There were so many people involved in the 14 credit unions that took part, in the local authorities that welcomed the visitors and in the school in Liverpool that put on such a tremendous reception and the speakers at the events.  We certainly demonstrated the extent and the depth of a real credit union welcome. The Romanians were overwhelmed with the kindness and warmth of the welcome and they really do want our credit union people to visit them in Romania in return.  Let’s hope that that might be possible

Letter of Thanks from Romanania



April 2016 Northwest Trip to Romania

The exchange visit Organized by the National Association of Credit Unions of Employees in Romania under the motto "Improving Lives through credit unions" was held in Romania from 11 to 17 April 2016. Participants: credit unions from North West of England and credit unions from counties Arges, Brasov, Bucharest, Dolj, Hunedoara, Mures, Prahova, Valcea as well as territorial credit unions.

It was a real example of regional and international credit union collaboration and friendship and was just what being in the credit union movement  is all about.  We learnt so much from one another and from our Romanian friends and colleagues.  The association and collaboration with Romania may it continue into the future.  It is a lovely country, with great people and with a co-operative finance sector committed to the same values and principles as in the United Kingdom.  Hopefully more can be acheived on governance and on a worker exchange programme. Participants came home feeling very privileged, inspired and proud to have taken part in such an amazing trip.  

Open the link below and explore a wonder ful experience 

Kenyan Credit Unions

SACCOS are voluntary associations where by members regularly pool their savings, and subsequently members may obtain loans which they may use for different purposes. Generally, the idea behind establishment of SACCOS is to promote savings and make credits available to the members. SACCOS are the important microfinancing institutions for mobilization of financial resources for various development activities, particularly in rural areas; where majority of both Kenya and Tanzania reside, and earn their livelihood from agriculture. In Africa, the idea of saving and credit societies was first described and discussed in 1955 in Jipara, a small town the upper west town of Ghana, the idea was brought by the Roman Catholic priest, Father John McNulty from Ireland. He decided to assist his village to form a saving and co-operative, he then trained 60 people mainly teachers. The success Jipara story has been widely replicated throughout the African continent.

Delegates from Kenyan Credit Unions have been visiting the UK movement for some time now and to Rochdale home of the Co-Operative. Credit union in the UK have welcomed them over the years.

There are 5,769 credit unions in Kenya, serving 5.4 million members, which is more than one fifth of the population and they have assets worth more than £4.3 billion

Photos:-Right Click  and Open Link in new tab  

Brazilian Credit Unions

Sicredi is one of the largest cooperative financial institutions in Brazil.  It is made by people and for people, and now has over 3,5 million members and a comprehensive portfolio of banking products and services. 

A delegation from the Brazilian co-operative and credit union movement visited Manchester as part of a 9-day study trip organised with the Co-operative College in May 2017.

Martin Logan of the British Credit Union Historical Society said after his presentation on the British movement “Co-operation is what credit unions are good at, at local level, at national level and above all at international level.”

Brazil is home to one of the world’s largest and fastest growing credit union movements. 582 credit unions serve 6.3 million members across the country, and the sector’s assets are worth over £21 billion.

Phoyos:- Open link in new tab 

Nepal Federation of Savings and Credit Cooperative Unions Ltd.

(NEFSCUN), is the member based national apex organization of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) and their District Unions (DUs) is committed to the development, promotion and strengthening of its member organizations through supporting SACCOS and DUs in their aim to contribute for the upliftment of financial, social cultural aspiration of individual members of respective community. NEFSCUN follows the credit union principles propounded by World Council of Credit Union (WOCCU) in 1984. On their visit to Manchester  organised with the Co-operative College in August 2017 the society gave a presentation led by Martin Logan Voyager Alliance Credit Union giving a history of the movement in Britain and followed by Jim Clancy Metro Moneywise Credit Union exploring the society web site. 

Follow the link for more info  

2nd Nepal Visit January 2018

The start of 2018 on January the 23rd the Historical Society gave a presentation to delegates from the co-operative movement of Nepal. This was at the invitation of the Co-op college in Manchester Martin Logan Voyager Alliance Credit Union, followed by Jim Clancy Metro Moneywise Credit Union gave a talk on the British credit union movement. This also included a journey around the Historical societies website encouraging delegates to explore the website for their own credit unions. Whilst there was a bigger language barrier with this group Steve from the Co-op College said “We believe we have delivered a good study visit for them so they are going home with new ideas and an awareness of how the UK movement operates”. During the last session with the college, the group leader read out a pre-prepared statement that thanked everyone involved in helping them during their stay and highlighting how important this visit has been to help them continue vital work back home, during his speech he made reference to credit unions a number of times so that gives a good indication all was delivered what they wanted. In the photo on the far left is Steve Kingman Business Support Manager from the Co-op College. Steve welcomed them to Manchester and arranged the program for the stay in Manchester. The next stop was to Scotland before heading back home.




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Latest comments

18.08 | 14:55

I am very proud to be a part of the credit union and the ethos of people helping people.

Congratulations to No1 CopperPot.

27.08 | 20:58

very very best knowledge toture and lovely group, geting a knowledge and share a experiance from all member of DE2015. what a lovely group?

14.07 | 04:57

A very inspiring and educational experience. It awaken my interest to serve the community.

01.07 | 13:06

As schools Development Worker for Unify Credit Union, I found the schools project resources very useful.... some really good ideas, Thank you x

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