I Wish I Thought of This Tag Line

“When we lose small, we lose big”

This phrase is not about the continual decline of smaller credit unions via merger and the lack of new charters.

Rather it is the advertising lead for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. This is an investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. The firm states more than 9,700 business owners have graduated from the program across all 50 states in the US, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

A Simple Cooperative Counterpart

Is it possible for the cooperative system to emulate these “small,” bank-supported start up efforts by repurposing charters under new leadership when incumbents give up? Why not identify groups in the community willing to bring fresh passion and ideas to the existing charter framework?

Despite the pandemic, new business startups are booming. On the other hand, 200-250 smaller, decades-old credit unions close each year. There was only one new charter issued in 2020. The NCUA approval process takes years.

One “big” loss is that credit union entrepreneurs are unable to be partners with local business enterprises pursuing the American dream. More consequential, without the energy and innovation from startups, the ultimate BIG loss could be the ending of the unique cooperative financial system.

4 Replies to “I Wish I Thought of This Tag Line”

  1. Great observation Chip! You’ve made a great point that explains why one of the five initiatives of the CUSO Challenge, (www.CUSOchallenge.com), is focused on generating more de novo credit unions and developing new collaborative strategies that over come the barriers all small and even larger existing credit unions face.

    We have seen in this new year that even the NCUA has initiated an effort to promote, improve, simplify and accelerate the chartering process in their recently announced ACCESS initiative. Let’s hope that it is more than window dressing.

  2. It’s refreshing to see someone else have this idea of ‘repurposing’ charters that just disappear when a (usually) small CU merges out. I wish more in our industry would look at these very valuable charters as an opportunity to ‘repurpose’ when the CU merges out. The analogy of an old house fits I think. It’s old, outdated and needs updating – new flooring, kitchen, bathrooms but it was built well and has ‘good bones’. That charter (old house) is currently vaporized. With a little outside the box thinking, it could be repurposed with new leadership, new purpose, passion and a much bright future (updating the old house). It makes no sense to me that these 200-250 charters each year just go away when the CU merges. The small, cooperative business model is certainly not outdated.

    1. Believe the analogy is very appropriate. We need both builders (new charters) and renovators if the coop model is to remain an option for new generations of business creators.

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