The National Association of Cooperative Banks has been operating since 1991. The mission and goals pursued by the founders of the Association have remained unchanged from the very moment of its establishment. “Representation, integration and education” are the three pillars on which the Association was built - we may proudly say that it still operates in accordance with these guidelines.
Establishment of the NACB has been closely related to the history of the Polish cooperative banking industry and its broadly understood political and economic background. In 1989, there were 1663 cooperative banks operating in the structures of Bank Gospodarki Żywnościowej. The Act - Banking Law of 31 January 1989 strengthened the autonomy of these banks and broadened their scope of operation. Additionally, the Act of 20 January 1990 on changes in the organization and operation of cooperatives deprived Bank Gospodarki Żywnościowej of the functions of the central cooperative association, which gave cooperatives the right of association on a voluntary basis. In October and November of the same year, the World Bank preparation mission came to Poland, and one of the mission's results was a report of the World Bank expert John Greenaisen on the condition of the Polish cooperative banking system and elaboration of proposals for its new organizational model. These and other external factors became a direct incentive to establish the National Association of Cooperative Banks on 2 March 1991 in the city of Ciechocinek. The participants adopted the Statute in which they called the NACB as a “self-governing organization affiliating on a voluntary basis cooperative banks which form regional economic banks - joint-stock companies representing common economic interests of these banks in the field of their operation, in particular towards state authorities”. The first headquarters of the NACB was in Poznań, however in 1992 the NACB Management Board decided to move it to Warsaw.
Since the very beginning of its existence, the NACB has been actively participating in activities of supranational associations of cooperative banks in Europe and in the world: in 1991 the NACB joined the European Association of Cooperative Banks (EACB), and in 1995 it joined the International Cooperative Banking Association (ICBA) in Geneva. The NACB is a member of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
One of the NACB goals is to integrate the community of cooperative banks in Poland. This goal is pursued in many dimensions and fields of activities. One of them was establishment in 1994 of “Głos Banków Spółdzielczych”, a periodical published by the NACB, dedicated to the current problems of the cooperative banking sector. “Głos Banków Spółdzielczych” publishes articles written by both representatives of the academic world and valued practitioners experienced in their fields, who touch in their articles upon issues important for the banking cooperative community in the field of banking, finance, modern banking technologies, marketing and management.
Another NACB inspiration to integrate the industry is a tradition of organizing the Cooperative Banking Day, which was proclaimed during the NACB General Meeting on 20 June 1997. The “Act on establishment of the Cooperative Banking Day”, which was then signed, provides that the Cooperative Banking Day falls on the last Sunday of June each year. The Cooperative Banking Day is an initiative of cooperative banking communities from all over Poland - celebrations of this event aim at promoting banking cooperatives at local levels, at promoting cooperative values and strengthening unity of cooperative banks, as well as at popularizing economic knowledge and knowledge about cooperative banking in school and local communities.
Since 1996 the NACB has been awarding various distinctions to individuals and institutions merited for the cooperative banking industry.
In 2015 the NACB has re-launched training activities in addition to the educational offer for representatives of cooperative banks. For several years, it has been the NACB tradition to organize November conferences at the National Bank of Poland - issues addressed during these conferences have always referred to the current challenges facing the cooperative banking sector.
A constant component of the NACB activity is organizing, co-establishing and participating in bodies whose purpose is to integrate the sector. These include participation in the Consultation Council of the Cooperative Banking Sector (reactivated upon the NACB’s initiative in 2013), inter-association committees, Sectoral Council for Competence and many other ad hoc working groups as well as councils dedicated to specific current goals.
In 2019, pursuant to an agreement concluded by the affiliating banks: Bank BPS, SGB-Bank and KZBS, the Center for the History of Polish Cooperative Banking Industry has been opened in Warsaw as a result of joint efforts. It is the only exhibition in Poland entirely dedicated to the history, traditions and achievements of the Polish cooperative banking sector from its beginning to date.