Credit Unions dates back to community-based, co-operative banking thatarose in Germany in the nineteenth century. In Canada, the first adherents gathered in Quebec; the caisses populaires were begun by Alphonse Desjardins in 1900. At a recent congress of the World Council of Credit Unions, in Vancouver, B.C. over 2,000 delegates from 85 countries represented 36,000 credit unions with 90 million members and $380 billion (US) is assets. As this book shows, groth has not always been easy; credit unions aroundthe world took hold in a variety of social, political and cultural systems.