MONTREAL, Oct. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Speaking today to invited guests of the
Montréal Council on Foreign Relations (MCFR), Mr. Alban D'Amours, President
and CEO of Desjardins Group, delivered a solid argument in favour of the
cooperative formula, which he believes is one of the most useful tools for
helping communities face the challenges of an increasingly global economy.
"Since its appearance in Europe in the first half of the 19th century,
the system of thought and organization that cooperation represents has
gradually taken root around the globe. Its extensive spread throughout the
world, and the fact that it has been successful in the most varied of cultural
and socioeconomic contexts, allows us to describe the cooperative formula as
both practical and universal," Mr. D'Amours noted.
Designed first and foremost to meet the needs of communities and
individuals, cooperatives have performed brilliantly where no other business
saw any chance for making a profit. Today, he noted, the 300 largest
international players in the cooperative world have a combined business volume
of close to US$1 trillion, or approximately equivalent to the entire gross
domestic product of Canada.
"Experience has shown that one of the best assets of the cooperative
business model is its ability to direct the efforts of a given community
towards a common goal. Although it has mastered the market's competitive
dynamic, it is a business model that stands out for its service logistic,
which focuses on its response to members' needs," asserted the President and
CEO of the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada.
Today, the cooperative model - a solid factor in the fight against
poverty - is highly valued in the less privileged countries. It is even more
essential now, as the current sweep of globalization is leaving behind many
developing countries, which are thus slow to enjoy the long-awaited fruits of
the general increase in economic activity and trade.
In this regard, Mr. D'Amours stressed the undeniable contribution of
Développement international Desjardins (DID), a Desjardins Group component
that assists and equips communities from poorer countries by helping them
establish their own financial institutions.
"Over the past 35 years, we have supported the emergence and development
of dozens of cooperative savings and loan networks in over fifty countries. As
opposed to one-time, external assistance, often with no follow-up, DID's
activities have an even more valuable impact as they lead to the creation and
strengthening of sustainable financial institutions, administered by the local
population," noted Mr. D'Amours to his audience.
"Furthermore, cooperatives also have the advantage of being a way for
individual and communities to take charge of their affairs, being by nature
committed to activities that are both long-term and geographically defined.
Similarly, while financial markets are regularly denounced for their tendency
to impose a "dictatorship of the short-term," cooperatives can delve into
supporting structural projects to be carried out over longer periods of time
while setting objectives for more weighted returns," added Mr. D'Amours.
Despite the numerous challenges facing the cooperative movement,
Desjardins Group's president remains confident about the future, believing
that the positive spin-offs of the presence of cooperatives are well worth the
efforts that are needed to protect their integrity and promote their
"With its history and its achievements, its universal and practical
nature, cooperation will, for a very long time, remain a means of supporting
human communities as they seek solutions to their needs; a means of helping
people fight poverty, improve the distribution of wealth and humanize
globalization," Mr. D'Amours concluded.
About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the largest integrated cooperative financial group in
Canada, with overall assets of more than $143 billion, as at June 30, 2007. It
comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec
and Ontario, and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general
insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of
which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its 40,000
employees and the commitment of nearly 6,800 elected officers, Desjardins
offers its 5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients a full
range of financial products and services. Its physical distribution network is
complemented by leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out more, consult
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