Credit Co-operatives in Locally Financed Economic Development
Using Energy Efficiency as a Lever
In most transitional and many developing countries institutions capable of supporting economic development with localized saving-investment cycles have not developed. This crucial gap is in no way addressed by either country-level macro programmes dealing with ‘development finance’ or by donor-driven ‘micro credit’ schemes of Grameen and other types operating at a lower (local) level. The latter seldom evolve into financial institutions able to sustain themselves on the basis of local resources, do not operate on a sufficient scale to trigger dynamic local-level economic growth, and are ultimately artificial manifestations of concessional or charitable aid. The advantages of credit co-operatives in mobilizing and financing local economic development are contrasted with the disadvantages of both conventional micro credit and the most recent neoliberal fashion of so-called ‘new wave financial institutions’. Both precedent and the structural logic suggest that this is a promising space for the development of a localized financial system based on credit co-operatives, which elsewhere have overcome the SME credit famine and stimulated local saving-investment cycles. Recent Russian developments are placed in the context of earlier experience in structurally similar conditions. These lessons apply to all other former Soviet Union states, as well as other countries.