Raiffeisen credit co-operative

Raiffeisen credit co-operative. A form of rural credit union, first organized by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen in Germany in the mid-19th century. The first such union in Russian-ruled Ukraine was founded in Ivanivka, Pryluky county, Poltava gubernia, in 1895, following the adoption of a new law on credit co-operatives. The unions were popular with Ukrainian peasants, who had little money. By 1915 there were 1,978 Raiffeisen credit unions in the nine Ukrainian gubernias of the Russian Empire, 176 in the Kuban, and several hundred more in predominantly Ukrainian regions of Bessarabia and other neighboring gubernias. In 1914 those institutions had 1,754,000 members, total assets of over 130 million rubles, and outstanding loans of over 117 million rubles. The unions were dissolved by the Bolshevik regime.

In Galicia most Ukrainian Raiffeisen credit unions were under the control of the Patrons of Agricultural Associations (est 1899). Before the First World War another 33 were under the Audit Union of Ukrainian Co-operatives (RSUK). After the war the RSUK devoted considerable attention to activating Ukrainian Raiffeisen credit unions, and by 1938 there were over 500 individual offices. Most of them provided long-term loans to peasants and peasant co-operatives. They worked closely with the Ukrainbank credit co-operatives, which served urban dwellers, and the Tsentrobank, which functioned as the overall co-ordinating body for Ukrainian credit co-operatives in the interwar period. All of the Raiffeisen credit co-operatives were abolished in 1939, when Soviet forces occupied Western Ukraine.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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