How we start a credit union

Sponsored by the Riverwest Cooperative Alliance (rca.coop), we are residents, activists, workers, and people who care in the 53212 ZIP Code, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, coming mostly from the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods. This effort is being led by the Riverwest & Harambee Credit Union Organizing Committee.

We are starting a community organizing credit union to provide financial services, help foster new co-ops, and organize our community to stand up to the banksters and Wall Street, in alliance with other social justice struggles. We are advocating for economic democracy, the idea that workers and communities that create wealth control how that wealth is used.

Starting a credit union isn’t easy, but our Organizing Committee is dedicated to making a change in our economy here in Harambee and Riverwest.  Contact us to be a part of the Organizing Committee.  To have a license to operate, or a charter, we will be seeking approval from the Office of Credit Unions, an office of the Department of Financial Institutions of the State of Wisconsin.

We will be preparing an application that will include our proposed bylaws, business plan, and our policies.  These documents are being prepared by the Organizing Committee.  We also need to present interest surveys completed by future members of the credit union.  These surveys ask community members if they would join our new credit union, what financial products they use, and how much they can put in their savings account when we have our charter.

The biggest hurdle we have now securing our start-up and operating costs.  Please donate to this effort!  When the community is behind this effort, and we have raised some start-up and operating expenses, we will apply for a charter and share insurance. We will be state-chartered by the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions and federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) through the Share Insurance Fund. As the Committee gets closer to applying, we will be finalizing our business plan, marketing plan, policies, and bylaws.

Once we are granted a charter, we can begin collecting deposits and giving loans.  Most financial institutions make their money on interest from loans they offer.  Once we are chartered, we can open an office location as well.  The basic functions of our credit union – like where we locate our office and what interest rates we charge – will be decided by our membership and future board.

Here’s something to do right now: Sign up to volunteer and donate to our effort!

Want to read more? Check out the Federal Credit Union Charter Application Guide. We will be state chartered, not federally chartered – but because our shares (accounts) will be federally insured by NCUA, we will have to follow many of the requirements listed in that guide.