The late Cyril Monsanto, founder of CLICO Credit Union Co-operative Society Limited, and co-founder of Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO), was instrumental in the formation of the Credit Union Movement in Trinidad and Tobago.
Mr. Monsanto preached Thrift and Savings to all and likewise in 1941, he encouraged the members of Staff and Agents at CLICO to join “Sou-Sou” and “Len’hand”, this meant:
“A group of people contributing a fixed sum of money into a Co-operative Savings and Cash, drawing a han’in turn”
Mr. Monsanto later officially called this concept the CLICO CREDIT UNION. It began in 1942 with only three dollars ($3.00) and a membership of twelve (12) persons, paying twenty-five cents a week towards their Shares. This form of savings was new to the citizenry of Trinidad & Tobago in 1942, but Mr. Monsanto had previous exposure in the United States where the Credit Union was a form of grassroots savings which was well established there since 1871 and in Europe since 1844.
On December 21, 1945 legislation was passed and signed by the Clerk of the Council – Mr. W.J. Boos and assented by the then Governor His Excellency Mr. B. E. H. Clifford on 27th December, 1945, as An Ordinance No.48 – 1945. This Ordinance was called “An Ordinance relating to Credit Union Co-operative Societies” and it took effect on December 29, 1945. The short title was – “The Credit Union Societies Ordinance, 1945”. One year after this legislation was introduced, CLICO Credit Union was officially registered on September 23, 1946 as The CLICO Credit Union (Co-operative Society) Limited, No. 21, with it office address as No. 32 St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain. At the time of registration the Credit Union began operations with Five Hundred and Two dollars ($502.00), held a deposit of Two Hundred and Thirty-seven Dollars and Twenty-Nine cents ($237.29) at the Co-operative Bank and the sum of Four Hundred and Forty-Five Dollars ($445.00) was loaned by the union. Its membership consisted of 29 persons with Mr. Monsanto as the first official President and Mr. Fred Collins as the first official secretary.
Aims and Objectives
The aims and objects in 1945 were to promote thrift among its members and to create a source of credit for its members at legitimate rates of interest for provident and productive purposes. As president Mr. Monsanto assisted in the necessary arrangements to have the loans approved and to have payments collected. During this period the credit union did not have a delinquency problem, since Mr. Monsanto was also the Manager of the CLICO Port of Spain Agency he made the necessary arrangements to have all payments for loans and shares collected by the company’s treasurer, and paymaster Mr. Bernard Luces, who was also the Treasurer of the Credit Union. The Credit Union did not have a full time staff to manage its affairs, so it was voluntarily done by the management team, who were all employees of the CLICO Port of Spain Agency and Head Office.