The Origin (1945 - 1969)
According to records, a thrift society was established in Seychelles sometime around the year 1945.
The formation of this society was not brought about by the people who needed it despite the fact that the need for one was very evident. There were only three post office savings banks and one shop acting as a banking agency around this period. No proper banking facilities existed then and such a situation presented a heaven for loan sharks who became rich in no time.
The thrift society was started on the initiative of an expatriate government officer who happened to be the chief Income Tax Officer. Some young civil servants were encouraged to join the society and to save regularly . After a few months the society had accumulated considerable funds and started giving loans to its members. The fact that progress and expansion did not happen is due to several factors. Firstly, people were suspicious and they believed that this initiative was another government trick to probe into the financial position of the people so heavier taxes could be imposed on them.
Secondly, when the expatriate government official left the country, the thrift society had not had the time to establish itself firmly. Very few of its members had the opportunities to make themselves familiar with the Credit Union principles. A few months later after the departure of this official, the few members of the society had to terminate its activities and in this process quite a few of the young civil servants lost a considerable proportion of the money they had invested into the society.
In 1969, an Irish Credit Unionist by the name of Mr. Patrick HASSAN, employed as a lecturer at the Seychelles Teacher’s Training College introduced the Credit Union principles to a group of trainee teachers and other colleagues. Contact was established with the Irish Credit Union League, to provide samples of promotion materials, model by-Laws, passbooks as well as samples of other documentations and stationery.
Registration & developments (1970 - 1984)
The Seychelles Credit Union (SCU) was registered on 19th March 1970 under the Co-operative Societies Act of 1960. The Roman Catholic Church in Seychelles provided a rent free office as a major contribution to allow the newly established Credit Union to start its operations. Financial assistance was equally obtained from the Catholic Relief Services towards the year 1971 for the purchases of furniture and equipments.
Around that same year, contacts were made with CUNA (USA) and Life Savings and Loan Protection insurance were provided through CUNA Mutual. After 6 years of operations, the Seychelles Credit Union became a member of African Confederation of Cooperative, Savings and Credit Association(ACCOSCA) in 1976.
At the beginning, the Seychelles Credit Union was run by volunteers up to December 1977 when it recruited its first full time employee in the capacity of Mr.Emile Esparon.From 1978 up to 1989, the Seychelles Credit Union received financial assistance from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) to meet part of its operating costs. This enabled SCU to become self-financed by 1989. Extra help was also received from the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) between 1982-1984 for promotion and activities. The assistance was solicited with a view to support SCU during its infancy stage of development and to draw on the expertise of well-established Credit Unions beyond/the border of Seychelles.
Governing Body/ Legislation (1987 - 2005)
In December 1987, the Co-operatives Act of 1960 was replaced by a new Co-operatives Act 1987. The Seychelles Credit Union was re-established under the Seychelles Credit Union Establishment Order of July 1988. The Ministry of Finance is currently the principal regulator of co-operatives in the Seychelles.
In April 2004, certain powers and performance of duties previously vested with the Ministry of Finance were delegated to the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS). Following two inspections by the Central Bank of Seychelles, a series of weaknesses in SCU’s governance were highlighted.
Subsequently, the Department of Finance dissolved the elected Management Committee in July 2005 and replaced it with committee of three persons in line with Section 16(i) of the Co-operatives Act 1987. This committee was given a two year mandate to rectify the deficiencies highlighted in the reports. One of the main achievements of this committee has been the introduction of a new legal framework, namely the Credit Union Act, to modernize the Credit Union movement in Seychelles as well as a complete revision of SCU by-laws.