Given the relevance of the credit unions at national and world level, the objective of this work was to describe the profile of the financial cooperatives from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. This study is based on data collected in the period of May to June of 2004, and the sample of 18.85% of the population was selected to supply data. The results indicate that the cooperatives were, on average, 16 years old; 92% of the associates that requested loans were assisted; the delinquent loans level were of 22.34%; and older cooperatives established smaller interest rates than the new ones. The managers had appropriate perception of the true meaning of a cooperative and they agreed with the cooperative principle of voluntary and open membership. In general, credit unions serve their members supplying services with smaller costs than the bank system, thus, they provide financial service to low-income people accomplishing their role in the microfinance system.


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