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Credit Unions and Community Development: the US Experience

Posted: 9th March 2020

As the Scottish Government develops its credit union strategy, join us for a lunchtime discussion with American community development finance expert Clifford Rosenthal, which will consider:

  • The challenges of sustainability for community development finance institutions
  • How to increase the supply of affordable credit
  • The importance of regular savings for low-income consumers
  • Opportunities and risks associated with fintech.

About the speaker: Since becoming the Executive Director of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in 1980, Clifford Rosenthal has played a leading role in the emergence of community development finance institutions. He developed the concept of the US Treasury’s CDFI Fund, which for the last 25 years has provided capital to a wide range of providers of affordable credit. In that time, he has supported the founding of more than a dozen low-income credit unions, and has mobilised credit unions among faith and minority communities.

He also created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s programs for developing financial capability and facilitating low-income consumers’ access to financial services. Recently, he has taken up a wide-ranging consultancy role, and has completed the definitive account of the emergence of the CDFI sector, Democratizing Finance.

Who should attend

Anyone interested in understanding the role of credit unions in their local communities, and lessons which we might learn in the UK from the experience of US community development credit unions, including the role of partnerships with external organisations. This includes credit union leaders, policy makers, and professionals working in ethical finance.


12:00 Registration and lunch

12:40 Opening remarks

12:45 Clifford Rosenthal – Credit Unions and Community Development

13:25 Round table responds

13:45 Open discussion

14:00 Close


Location and directions

Clifford Rosenthal

12.00 – 14.00, 17th March, 2020

Panmure House, Lochend Close, Edinburgh. EH8 8BL

Lochend Close runs between Canongate and Calton Road in Edinburgh’s New Town. There is only permit parking in Lochend Close, and the nearest pay and display bays are in Calton Road and Holyrood Park.

It may be easiest to arrive on foot or by public transport.  Panmure House is less than 15 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Waverley – there is an exit at the East end of the station onto Calton Road. Using that, turn right onto Calton Road, and then right again when you reach Lochend Close. Panmure House is at the top of the hill, on the right hand side.

From Canongate, there are two pends which run into Lochend Close. These are opposite the Royal Mile Primary School, and there is a newsagent’s shop between them.

Lothian Bus 35 stops nearby on Canongate, running with a 20 minute frequency.


About Panmure House

The last home of Adam Smith, Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Business School has recently acquired and renovated Panmure House with the intention of making it a home for economic and social debate, and to develop the legacy of Adam Smith’s insights into political economy and moral philosophy.

Registration and lunch will take place in the interpretation area in the ground floor. We will then move upstairs to the library for the address – and in the best traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment, debate about practical matters of policy.


Registration arrangements

To book places at the event, please follow the link to obtain tickets from Eventbrite by Thursday 12th March. The event is free but limited to a total of 60 places.

For more information, please contact the organiser, Robbie Mochrie


Phone: 0131-451-3481

Mobile: 07817 874 140

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