1930s – 1940s: Father John Peter Sullivan, a Jesuit Missionary, arrived in Jamaica to teach at St. Georges’ College in 1939, a year after the 1938 labour riots that saw the working class clashing with their employers over unfair pay and inhumane working conditions.
If the poor were lucky they could get loans from the bank but the process was hard and they were rarely successful. Though the moneylenders were eager to lend, they charged huge interests.
For two years Father Sullivan and the Catholic Young Men’s Sodality (CYMS), a group of 14 sodality associates he is made to supervise, studied the mechanics of the ‘Credit Union Movement’ to give the poor and disenfranchised a means of financial capital and security.
On September 12, 1941 Father Sullivan and the CYMS established the first Credit Union in Jamaica, Sodality Credit Union with shares totaling US$1.87. The Credit Union’s motto was “Not for Profit, not for Charity but for Service”.
Father Sullivan and the other members were motivated to spread the Credit Union idea across the island. By the end of the 1940s the Credit Union had 98 members with total savings of J$520.00.
1930s – 1940s: