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Publication date: 2015
Keywords: credit unions, ethical finances, social investment

Credit unions and credit cooperatives are financial organizations that aim to provide financial intermediation services to a range of stakeholders, guided by a set of ethical principles that place social and environmental goals at the centre of their activities. 

Credits unions and cooperatives emerge with the aim of funding economic activities which have a positive social impact, by giving support to social, ecological, cultural and humanitarian projects and to persons who do not have access to traditional financial tools. The signs of their societal impact are the increase in projects with a high social value being funded worldwide, and organizations and people becoming their clients, as well as their increasing penetration in the traditional economic system.

Credit Unions emerged in order to allow disenfranchised groups as well as highly valued societal projects to have access to the necessary funding. It also responded to the growing discontent with the separation between real social needs and the philosophy of the traditional financial actors. Credits unions can be used by any cooperative, association, social institution or small business interested in carrying out socially-oriented economic projects.

The European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA) is a non-profit international association formed by 29 European partners based across 17 European States. FEBEA was born with the aim of defending the existence of credit unions, protecting ethical banking and becoming a platform of political action that aimed at introducing changes in European banking regulations.


Social Innovation Initiatives in the Critical Turning Points-database 

FEBEA/Credal (Belgium)

FEBEA/Fiare (Italy)

FEBEA/Merkur Cooperative Bank (Denmark)

FEBEA/Banca Popolare Etica (Italy)


Social Innovation Initiatives studied in-depth

European Federation of Ethical and Alternativa Banks FEBEA

Fiare Banca Etica (Italy)

Norwich Credit Union (UK) 

West Norwich Credit Union (UK)

Wherry Dragon Credit Union (UK)



Dumitru, A.; Lema-Blanco, I.; García-Mira, R.; Haxeltine, A. and Frances. A. (2015) Transformative social innovation narrative of Credit Unions. TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169

Dumitru, A., Lema-Blanco, I., García-Mira, R., Haxeltine, A. and Frances. A. (2015) WP4 : case study report : Credit Unions. TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169. 


Research Coordination: UDC – Adina Dumitru


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