The "Raiffeisen Hall of Fame" Award


To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, the grandfather of the credit union idea as a social enterprise to try to repair societal failings, the Trustees have instigated an Award in his name.  This Award will not be made regularly, but will recognise those credit unions in Great Britain and Ireland who, over a sustained period of at least five years, have participated in and maybe won both the “Filene” and “Biden” Awards. 

This Award is both a privilege and a constraint

  • The privilege is - to assist the Trustees in drawing up (not judging) future Awards criteria, until replaced by the next winner of this Award.
  • The constraint is - for two years the credit union cannot enter for a “Filene” Award it has previously won!

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen                                               

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (born 1818 in Westerwald, died 1888 in Neuwied-Heddesdorf) is regarded as the creator of the co-operative credit union as part of a social enterprise hub.  Leaving school at 14 and tutored for 3 years by a local pastor, he entered the army at 17 but had to resign from the military after contracting an eye disease in 1848 and then went into public service.

In Europe dire winters from 1846-8 led to crop failures everywhere (famine in Ireland) and in 1849 in Flammersfeld, Raiffeisen set up an “Association for the self- procurement of Bread and Fruits) buying flour with the help of private donations, bread was baked in a self-built bakery and distributed on credit to the very poor.  During his tenure as the young mayor of Flammersfeld, he conceived of the idea of co-operative self-help, inspired by observing the suffering of the farmers who were often in the grip of loan sharksand founded the first cooperative lending bank, in effect the first rural credit union in 1864.

Raiffeisen stated

there was a connection between poverty and dependency.  In order to fight poverty, one should fight dependency first”.

Based on this idea he came up with the three 'S' formula: 

self-helpself-governance and self-responsibility.  When put into practice the necessary independence from charitypolitics and loan-sharks could be established.” 

This is still relevant today and should be delivered through credit unions.