Credit where Credit is due

On Thursday last we visited St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union in Galway City at the invitation of longtime friend Peadar ó hIcí, who has been a voluntary worker with the Union for longer than any of us care to remenber.
What we found was a wonderful example of co operative community togetherness. A financial co – operative, owned and controlled by its members, serving the financial needs of their community on a not for profit basis. Everything about the experience was inspiring. They have a state of the art complex in Westside Shopping Centre. From the front of the house business end to the offices and boardroom and their enterprise centre, everything says “professional”, but all of this has been developed from a spirit of of mutuality, volunteerism, self help and not for-profit philosophy, using their collective wisdom and business acumen for the good of their members. This is volunteerism at its absolute best. All I can say is “what a crew”.
Each year the committee and members agree to made a donation to worthwhile charitable causes. This year they donated €5000 each to the Alan Kearns Charity , working in Zambia, Friends of Albania (Galway), a group of surgeons, doctors and nurses working in Albania and ourselves Wells for Zoe, working in Malawi.
We are extremely thankful to the people of this Galway group for this huge cheque, and for showing no bias against outsiders from Roscommon and Mayo!!. I felt very much at home there, not only because of the warm welcome but also because I spent four years of my college life, just accross the field in Rahoon Road.
This more than generous gift will be all used to promote the Credit Union ethos in some of the poorest, most remote areas in the world. We will be giving a jump start to rural villagers who, for the most part can’t read or write and most of whom have never had money, ever, but who have a spirit we can only dream of nowadays, where paid work is a rarity and survival is the best they can pray for.
Much of the microfinance will go to women and because these women rarely own more than one or two pots or pans, these loans are character-based rather than collateral-based. A group of five women all vouch for each other. The women are not only individually responsible, but their group is also liable for the loan. The first enterprises will be around small farming projects. The pictures, later, will show their, our and your success story.

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