April 23, 2015

Credit Unions and Cooperative Principles

Comment August 17, 2013 by Triangle Credit Union

I believe cooperatives are a natural expression of how people wish to do business. According to the International Cooperative Alliance, “A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

The values of co-ops are congruous with community and fill in the gaps left by the shareholder driven business model of corporations (a valid and viable model, just not the only one). All cooperatives, including Triangle Credit Union, can trace their roots and principles back to the first modern cooperative formed in Rochdale, England in 1844. The 7 cooperative principles, and how they apply to Triangle, are as follows:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership – membership in Triangle Credit Union is available to anyone residing in the Hillsborough, Merrimack, Belknap, Rockingham and Cheshire Counties of New Hampshire, as well as the Franklin, Worcester, Middlesex and Essex Counties of Massachusetts.
2. Democratic Member Control – Triangle’s members are invited each year to attend the credit union’s annual meeting where votes are cast to decide on the credit union’s leadership.
3. Members’ Economic Participation – Profits are returned to members in the form of competitive dividends on shares (savings) and affordable interest rates on loans, in addition to a full line of other financial services.
4. Autonomy and Independence – All decisions, from mortgage approvals to branch expansions, are made locally, right here in Nashua, NH.
5. Education, Training, and Information – Triangle offers member seminars and educational resources to help promote financial literacy within our membership.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives – Triangle has recently entered into an exciting partnership with other credit unions to offer shared branching.
7. Concern for Community – Triangle is proudly and passionately involved with many community organizations.

2012 was the International Year of the Cooperative, and its success in creating awareness of cooperatives worldwide has prompted the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) to call for a Co-op decade. By 2020, the goal is for cooperatives to become leaders in economic, social and environmental sustainability, a preferred business model, and the fastest growing form of enterprise. But, the ICA acknowledges that this is a strategy that they cannot move forward with alone. They state that in order for the Co-op decade “to be meaningful and effective, it needs to be taken up and endorsed by national bodies, by individual societies, and by all people who believe in the cooperative way of doing business”. I, for one, am excited to take up the cause.

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