EDINBURGH, Scotland (1/15/09)--Scotland has launched a new fund designated specifically for credit unions, to help them grow and withstand the global economic downturn. The new Third Sector Enterprise Fund of US$366,800 will offer grants of up to $36,680 to help credit unions build capacity and become more sustainable organizations, according to Finance Secretary John Swinney, a member of the Scottish Cabinet. He noted that third sector organizations, including credit unions, face challenges in the economy. “The Scottish Government highly values the contribution the sector can make to creating a wealthier and fairer country--which is why we increased funding by 37% and recently launched the Third Sector Enterprise Fund,” Swinney said. “In these unstable economic times, with other sources of borrowing harder than ever to obtain, the credit union movement offers a refreshing, human scale alternative source of finance, “ said Patrick Harvie, a member of the Scottish Parliament. “This new funding will be a very welcome boost for Scotland’s credit unions, which could be a key part of a truly diverse and sustainable banking system, instead of the UK Government’s vision of a world dominated by a handful of megabanks.” Scotland has about 120 credit unions serving about 200,000 members. They are eligible to apply for government support from the fund or from the Scottish Investment Fund. However, the government decided to dedicate a $366,800 Third Sector Credit Union Fund to help them reach their potential. The fund expects to make about 20 grants over the 2008-2011 period.