Credit Unions Worldwide
Over 57,000 credit unions operate in 105 countries worldwide. By providing community-based financial services, credit unions empower people to access high quality and affordable financial services. They help 217 million members — many of them reliant on low income and/or financially excluded — to create opportunities such as starting small businesses, building family homes and educating their children. In young democracies in particular, members encounter their first taste of democratic decision-making through the member-owned credit union.
In some countries, credit unions are known by different names. In Afghanistan, for example, credit unions are called Islamic investment and finance cooperatives (IIFCs) to comply with Islamic lending practices; in Africa, they are known as savings and credit co-operative societies (SACCOs) to emphasise savings before credit.
World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)
At the global level, credit unions are represented by the World Council of Credit Unions, which acts as the leading voice for advocacy and governance on behalf of the credit union community. World Council provides technical assistance programmes to strengthen credit unions’ financial performance and increase their outreach. World Council represents the interests of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation.
International Credit Union Day
International Credit Union Day® (ICU Day) is an annual occasion to acknowledge both credit unions' important role in creating opportunity for their members and communities and the achievements of pioneers who laid the foundation for ongoing credit union success.
The excitement of ICU Day arrives on the third Thursday every October, when credit unions around the world join together to celebrate the spirit of the credit union movement. It is a day to honor the hard work of credit union staff and volunteers and to show appreciation to members.
ICU Day celebrates the economic democracy and equal ownership rights of each credit union member. At credit unions throughout the world, every customer is both a member and an owner. Credit unions and associations in every part of the world, from Kentucky to Kenya, Alberta to Azerbaijan, will celebrate the day with open houses, contests and picnics.