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International Year of Cooperatives

International Year of Cooperatives

Early last year, the United Nations declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC). Join credit unions worldwide in recognizing this yearlong designation and promoting credit unions’ cooperative spirit.

The theme for IYC 2012, "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World,” highlights the contributions cooperatives have made in helping to reduce poverty, create jobs and promote socio-economic development around the world. As cooperatives with global impact, credit unions are encouraged to help increase public awareness of the cooperative mission  and celebrate the spread of the credit union movement. While the Year of Cooperatives officially kicks off Oct. 31, credit unions are encouraged to hold celebration activities throughout the rest of 2011 and into November 2012.

MnCUN hosts cooperative roundtable

During MnCUN’s Annual Meeting & Convention on April 13-14, cooperative leaders participated in a panel discussion on how credit unions can develop mutually beneficial relationships with area cooperatives.

As part of its celebration of the International Year of Cooperatives, MnCUN hosted a panel of leaders discussing how credit unions can develop mutually beneficial partnerships with local cooperatives. Held during MnCUN's Annual Meeting & Convention on April 13-14, this session provided credit unions tangible ideas of how they can help strengthen the cooperative movement.

Facilitated by cooperative consultant Adam Schwartz, the panel of cooperative leaders shared collaboration success stories. The panelists included CUNA President & CEO Bill Cheney, The Wedge General Manager Lindy Bannister, SPIRE Federal Credit Union President & CEO Dan Stoltz, and Crow Wing Power Credit Union Vice President Diane Viehauser. Schwartz, who previously served as the National Cooperative Business Association's (NCBA's) Vice President for Public Affairs, stated that it is important for credit unions to emphasize the "cooperative essence of who they are.”

Understanding the importance of cooperative partnerships, Stoltz outlined his credit union's cross-promotional work with four area grocery co-ops. SPIRE FCU offers a branded Visa card program to the members of grocery co-ops and shares a portion of the interchange income with the cooperative. Stoltz stated that this relationship adds value to the membership offerings of the credit union and the grocery co-ops.
One of SPIRE FCU's partners is The Wedge Community Co-op, which is the largest single-store cooperative in the United States. General Manager Bannister emphasized the benefits of the co-op's relationship with SPIRE FCU. She encouraged credit unions to examine their existing products and services and look for natural ways these offerings can be used to benefit members of other local cooperatives.
"Anything we can do together – as a cross sector – is going to make us stronger together,” Bannister said.
The third representative on the panel was Viehauser of Crow Wing Power CU who shared the story of how the credit union developed from the Crow Wing electric cooperative. Viehauser outlined the credit union's rapid growth and strong connection to the cooperative. She stated that community members appreciate the unique cooperative business model and strongly support the two organizations.
CUNA President & CEO Bill Cheney praised the panelists for their collaboration efforts and encouraged attendees to build similar relationships.
"I can't think of a better time to promote cooperatives – with this year being the International Year of Cooperatives,” Cheney said. "I think it's greatly important that credit unions work together with cooperatives. The bottom line is cooperatives are a better way.”
Cheney went on to outline CUNA's commitment to supporting and strengthening the cooperative movement thought involvement with the NCBA and other cooperative organizations. He also highlighted examples of cooperatives around the country that educate consumers about the benefits of co-ops.

MnCUN video on cooperatives

In this video, MnCUN President & CEO Mark Cummins touts the benefits of cooperatives and highlights their prominence in Minnesota.


More IYC Resources