Financial Cooperatives as Drivers for Sustainable Development in the Knowledge Economy
Sustainable development in the knowledge economy faces new challenges. Sustainable development has its stakeholders and drivers; some of them are more important than the others. Financial cooperatives do not seem a substantial stakeholder of sustainable development, but only at the first sight. This paper deals with the evaluation of financial cooperatives as drivers for sustainable development in the knowledge economy through community empowerment. Cooperative banks are stakeholder-value institutions, when the traditional commercial institutions are referred to as shareholder-value ones. Members of cooperatives are their stakeholders at different levels. Small financial cooperatives, like credit unions exist to attain the economic and social goals of their members, and not maximizing profit and shareholder wealth. This enables credit unions to empower communities to pursue specific interests of their local communities. The analysis of statistical data in order to establish whether there is a correlation between the level of prevalence of credit unions in different countries and the level of development of the knowledge economy and the selected sustainable development indicators is presented in this paper. The analysis indicates for an increasing positive correlation depending on credit union industry development stage.