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October 10, 2014
Credit union movement has shown constant growth in past five years – President

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, 66,000 persons are members of credit unions and cooperatives, which, as combined organizations, have an annual gross revenue in excess of EC$30 million.

Operating here are 18 credit unions, nine cooperatives, 57 junior cooperatives and a micro finance cooperative, as well as the apex body, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cooperative {{more}}League.

When combined, the cooperatives have, as of May 2014, EC$325 million in savings and assets exceeding EC$336 million.

President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cooperative League Kelvin Pompey gave these statistics last Monday, October 6, during a press briefing at the League’s office located at Lower Kingstown Park.

Pompey, who was speaking at the press launch of Cooperative Month 2014, stressed that it is important to note that during the past five years (from 2008 upwards), most financial sectors have been buffeted by the financial downturn, but the credit union movement has shown consistent annual growth in membership, assets savings and loans.

He described the local credit union movement as “strong and vibrant,” stressing that the credit unions and cooperatives have been there “for the small man of this country.”

“Each year, thousands of households depend on dividends and interest to buy school books, help in other areas of education, give assistance to those in need and to generally build a better life for members,” said Pompey, who claimed that it was the credit unions’ entry into the mortgage facility area that resulted in the lowering of the rate of interest of mortgages in the country.

“…additionally, it is this movement that has afforded hundreds of Vincentians the opportunity to own houses and access financing to

renovate and expand existing premises,” stated Pompey while adding, “it is important that as a movement, we continue to highlight and champion what we do.

“I feel sometimes that the movement is the third pillar of the economy behind the public and private sector. It is one of the unsung heroes of our country because very quietly, credit unions and cooperatives have been changing and transforming the lives of Vincentians and have assisted in lifting the level of social and economic development of thousands of Vincentians,” said the League’s president.

He added that in SVG, very few households do not have a member that is not part of a credit union.

“We are committed and provide an avenue and facility where a small man can save his money, combine his effort and as a result help to build each other up…people helping people,” said Pompey.

He stressed that locally, the organizations share a worldwide philosophy and over the past several years have seen the need to consolidate smaller credit unions with larger ones and as a result, strengthen the overall capacity of the movement in the country.

“We are proud of our heritage and we recognize the stalwarts who have worked hard in bringing the movement where it is and we are confident that the current crop is well equipped for the task of carrying the movement forward,” boasted Pompey to a grouping of other credit union members at the press conference.

Credit unions and cooperatives in SVG offer savings, credit facilities, investments, small business financing, home ownership opportunities, education financing, community development, among other facilities.