There is a great need to increase awareness of the role of financial services cooperatives and the advantages they offer, both in terms of their members and the communities they serve. This is exactly what the International Summit of Cooperatives intends to do. The Summit will feature several renowned speakers who will help raise awareness of financial services cooperatives and their powerful business model. These speakers include: John Baistow - Bankmecu (Australie) Jean-Louis Bancel - Crédit Coopératif (France) Debra Da Costa - UNFCU (États-Unis) Fortunatas Dirgincius - Lithuanian Central Credit Union (Lituanie) Carina Geber-Teir - OP Group (Finlande) Hervé Guider - Association européenne des banques coopératives (France) Arnold Kuijpers - Rabobank Nederland (Pays-Bas) Dominique Lefebvre - Fédération Nationale du Crédit agricole (France) Monique F. Leroux - Mouvement Desjardins (Canada) Michel Lucas - Crédit Mutuel (France) Alpha Ouédraogo - Confédération des institutions financières (Burkina Faso) Tracy Redies - Coast Capital Savings Credit Union (Canada) Daouda Sawadogo - Réseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina (Burkina Faso) Hugues Sibille - Crédit coopératif (France) Tamara Vrooman - Vancity (Canada) Laure Waridel – CÉCOSOL (Canada) “The financial services cooperative model, which is based on democratic governance, participation, proximity and member satisfaction, works,” said Stéphane Bertrand, the Summit's Executive Director. “By focusing primarily on human capital rather than profits at any cost, financial cooperatives have demonstrated their resilience and effectiveness during the financial crisis that began in 2008.” Financial cooperatives: economic pillars in many countries A report recently published by the Worldwatch Institute supports Mr. Bertrand's view. According to the report, financial cooperatives account for 23% of all bank branches worldwide and serve 870 million people, making them the second-largest financial services network in the world. They also account for 26% of the entire cooperative movement worldwide. In 2008, they generated US$430 billion in gross revenue. According to the report's author, Gary Gardner, cooperatives in the financial sector are valuable because they offer access to savings, loans, and other financial services for small and medium enterprises, particularly in rural areas. In fact, the report shows that 45% of the branches of financial coops are located in rural areas, compared with 26% of branches of commercial banks. Gardner's report concludes that cooperatives lower a key barrier to economic development in the poorest sectors of many economies. Featured in the photomontage (left to right, top to bottom): Carina Geber-Teir (OP Group – Finland), Hervé Guider (European Association of Co-operative Banks – France), Dominique Lefebvre (Fédération Nationale du Crédit Agricole – France), Hugues Sibille (Crédit coopératif – France), Tamara Vrooman (Vancity – Canada) and Laure Waridel (CÉCOSOL – Canada).