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Though cooperation and cooperative endeavors have existed throughout history, the modern cooperative movement can be said to have started in 1844, with the creation of the Rochdale Principles. These principles define an ethical business model that brings economic and social benefits to people around the world.

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Credit unions are called caisses populaires in French-speaking communities of Canada. This one is located in Shediac, New Brunswick

A credit union is a cooperative financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at reasonable rates, and providing other financial services to its members.[1][2][3] Many credit unions exist to further community development[4] or sustainable international development on a local level.[5] Worldwide, credit union systems vary significantly in terms of total system assets and average institution asset size[6], ranging from volunteer operations with a handful of members to institutions with several billion dollars in assets and hundreds of thousands of members. Yet credit unions are typically smaller than banks; for example, the average U.S. credit union has $93 million in assets, while the average U.S. bank has $1.53 billion, as of 2007.[7]

The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) defines credit unions as "not-for-profit cooperative institutions".[8] In practice however, legal arrangements vary by jurisdiction. For example in Canada credit unions are regulated as for-profit institutions, and view their mandate as earning a reasonable profit to enhance services to members and ensure stable growth.[9] This difference in viewpoints reflects credit unions' unusual organizational structure, which attempts to solve the principal-agent problem by ensuring that the owners and the users of the institution are the same people. In any case, credit unions generally cannot accept donations and must be able to prosper in a competitive market economy.


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- Albert Einstein (1879–1955) [1].

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Co-op City, located in the Baychester section of the Borough of the Bronx in northeast New York City, is the largest cooperative housing development in the world.[10].

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A housing cooperative (not to be confused with a building cooperative) is a legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit, sometimes subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease. The occupancy agreement specifies the co-op's rules. Cooperative is also used to describe a non-share capital co-op model in which fee-paying members obtain the right to occupy a bedroom and share the communal resources of a house that is owned by a cooperative organization. Such is the case with student cooperatives in some college neighborhoods in the United States.


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  1. ^ 12 U.S.C. § 1752(1), CUNA Model Credit Union Act § 0.20 (2007)
  2. ^ 12 U.S.C. § 1757, CUNA Model Credit Union Act § 3.10 (2007)
  3. ^ Sullivan, arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 511. ISBN 0-13-063085-3. 
  4. ^ National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, "What is a CDCU?
  5. ^ http://www.woccu.org/dev/programs/
  6. ^ http://www.woccu.org/dev/publications/
  7. ^ Mike Schenk, Vice President for Economics and Statistics, CUNA, "Commercial Banks and Credit Unions: Facts, Fallacies, and Recent Trends", at *2 (2007)
  8. ^ WOCCU, "What is a Credit Union?
  9. ^ for example the Ontario Credit Union Act, 1994 (as amended) c.11, s.24 (i)
  10. ^ "Urban Mass: A Look at Co-op City", The Cooperator. Accessed December, 2006.
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