AHMADABAD, India–While traveling in India to learn more about that country’s cooperatives, Brian Branch, president of the World Council of Credit Unions, was asked during a media interview why India’s credit cooperatives have such small market share and whether co-ops in the U.S. are really “too corporate” to be co-ops.
Branch, who has visited with co-ops in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, was interviewed while in Ahmadabad. In a Q&A Interview with IndiaCooperative.com, Branch said the goal of the visits has been to gain an update on credit cooperatives in the world’s second most populous country.
Branch said he was impressed with the scale of the cooperative sector in India across numerous fronts. But when asked why co-ops cooperate less than 1% to the nation’s GDP, Branch told IndiaCooperative.com, “Problems of credit coops of India are common to credit unions of several other countries. It’s a universal experience. The problem is mainly technological as well as not attracting youngsters into the co-operative fold.”
A Way Out
When pressed further on the “way out” of that scenario, Branch told the publication, “That is a good question-the way out. I will tell you what co-ops in several other parts of the world are doing-they are pooling their resources and creating values for themselves. Fortunately, cooperatives have an attitude of helping each other. In several countries they have created payment platforms by pooling their resources. Besides improving their services, this way they are also able to meet the norms of the regulator.”
Branch was also asked, “From a distance, co-ops operating in USA do not appear to be co-operative in the true sense of the word. Credit unions or electrical co-ops sound too corporate to be co-ops?
Branch responded,“What distinguishes a cooperative from other form of business is its nature of service. And in this sense American cooperatives are true cooperatives as they are member owned and member controlled. So is the case with cooperatives anywhere else in the world. It serves the working class and people of middle-income group in the USA, among others. The bottom line is they observe cooperative governance in their operations.”