The roots of modern cooperatives stretch back more than 150 years, but it wasn't until 1995 that the International Co-operative Alliance adopted seven core values around which all cooperatives should operate. When the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, these principles renewed an important conversation about what it means to be a credit union, specifically why they exist and how they are different by design. But these principles are more than just a collection of feel-good notions, they offer credit unions a way to compete against and differentiate from for-profit financial services providers.
Although the International Year of Cooperatives served as a catalyst for celebrating and feeling renewed pride in those shared values, it's important to pause and ask ourselves if we've effectively communicated them to the broader marketplace? Would members be able to name all seven principles? Would they be able to name any of them?
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