The study reviews the performance of financial cooperatives, looking in particular at the aftermath of the 2007-2008 crisis and the continuing long austerity period. It explains why financial cooperatives have proven to be more resilient pointing to the specificities of the cooperative model of enterprise.
This is because financial cooperatives and investor-owned banks follow different business models: the cooperatives are owned by members and are not driven by profits. The investor-owned banks are driven by the need to maximize profits for the shareholders, which leads some of them to take much bigger investment risks.
Credit unions were set up originally to serve people with the lowest incomes, many in developing countries and in North America. Most cooperative banks are based in Europe and serve a range of customers.
The report was prepared to highlight the contribution of financial cooperatives to the economic and social stability in countries around the world. It is a contribution to the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives 2012.