In my 36 years at CUNA Mutual, I have been afforded the opportunity to travel around the world representing our organization in many countries. I have often stated to my co-workers in Madison that I wish they could experience what I have seen firsthand; the "people-helping-people" philosophy and practice in our movement.
If I had to encapsulate those experiences in one credit union "moment of truth" it would be at a small credit union in Trinidad, off the coast of Venezuela, in 1993. There I saw an impoverished single mother with two small children in tow obtaining a micro-enterprise loan for a sewing machine. That machine was her only form of income to raise two children. I don't know what happened to that woman but I do know that only a credit union would have made her that loan.
Fast forward to 2008 and the world witnessed the value that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee placed on a philanthropist who was making micro-enterprise loans for sewing machines to hundreds of similar women in India. The philanthropist received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Credit unions around the world have been writing these loans for decades! We have been a "green" industry for 100 years by serving those of modest means.
So, how does CUNA Mutual fit into this moment? CUNA Mutual is owned by credit unions and their members and has been a part of the movement for 74 years. For many of those years, CUNA Mutual funded the development of credit unions worldwide through our league marketing agreements and other in-kind support. These agreements have been a substantial contributor for leagues, in the Caribbean, in the United States, and around the world, to promote credit union development.
CUNA Mutual is more than an insurance company. It is a part of a movement that contributes financially to the "people-helping-people" philosophy. I am proud of what we do for credit unions, their members, our league partners and the movement. I tell this story frequently to my co-workers in Madison so they understand the movement's philosophy of helping.
Don Davidson is Vice President of Credit Union System Relations with CUNA Mutual Group.
Personal Recollections of CUs: A CU Journal Series
To mark the 100th Anniversary of Credit Unions, Credit Union Journal is publishing "100 voices" answering, "The one personal anecdote from my credit union career that comes to my mind and which sums up what credit unions are all about it is..." Wish to share your story? E-mail email@example.com. Limit is 400 words.