Alphonse Desjardins of Quebec, Canada, is credited for bringing the credit union concept of “people helping people” to North America. Desjardins formed a credit union for working-class people who were at the mercy of loan sharks and their high interest rates. Massachusetts businessman Edward Filene later introduced the first credit union to the United States, guided by these cooperative principles:
- Only people who are Members would borrow there;
- Loans are made for “prudent and productive” purposes;
- A person’s desire to repay (character) is more important than the ability (income) to repay. Members are, after all, borrowing their own money and that of their friends.