The need for credit unions
Desjardins started by telling a small number of people about credit unions.
The first credit unions were formed in Europe to help factory workers who didn't make enough money get everything they needed.
The economic depression in Canada during Desjardins' life made it very difficult for workers and farmers to buy food, homes, and clothes and pay for doctors' visits.
These people needed more money. And there were two ways to get it:
- They could save their own money;
- They could borrow it.
A credit union could help them do both.
Forming the credit union
Desjardins couldn't have opened a credit union on his own. He needed a group of people to put their money together so the credit union would have enough money to lend.
Desjardins and his wife Dorimene invited people to their home to tell them about credit unions.
Only people who put their money in the credit union could borrow money from it.
After all his research, Desjardins invited a group of about 12 people to his home to tell them about credit unions.
He explained how cooperatives made people's lives better in Europe.
Later, Desjardins admitted that he was surprised when everyone in the room said they liked his idea and wanted to join the credit union.
The group began meeting twice a week to come up with rules for the cooperative.
After meeting 18 times, the group began collecting money from people for the first credit union shares.
Less than a month later, 80 people voted to adopt the credit union's rules. They signed the credit union's charter— and the modern credit union was born.