Canadian financial group The Co-operators has announced a pledge of $500,000 to the Global Development Co-operative (GDC).
Unveiled in November as the United Nations officially launched the International Year of Co-operatives, the GDC was designed to provide much-needed financing to co-operatives in the developing world.
The co-operative movement's role in contributing to social and economic development in communities around the world is acknowledged by the UN in the theme for 2012, Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World. However, they often have little access to funding through traditional lenders and often have limited collateral to put forward.
The GDC is a new entity guided by co-operative principles, which was developed by the UK’s Co-operative Bank and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), which represents the global co-operative sector. Its goal is to raise US$50 million in order to provide low-cost loans for capital and infrastructure projects to co-operatives in developing countries. The GDC now has the backing of a number of co-operative businesses from around the world.
Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators, said: “The Global Development Co-operative is an innovative way of allowing co-ops around the globe to support those in the developing world that play such important roles in bolstering sustainable economic development in their communities. This will be an important legacy of the International Year of Co-operatives, which will empower people and help them lift themselves out of poverty for a long time after 2012.”
Dame Pauline Green, President of ICA, said: “We’re delighted The Co-operators is supporting the Global Development Co-operative and joining other members to help communities in the developing world. With the global movement now working closer together than ever before as a result of the international year, we believe many other businesses from across the movement will want to play a part in this initiative.”
Separately, The Co-operators has also pledged the same amount, $500,000, to a similar initiative in Canada run by the Co-operative Development Foundation under the Build a Better World campaign.
The ICA estimates that the global co-operative sector has one billion members – one-seventh of the world’s population – and accounts for 100 million jobs. Canada’s 9,000 co-ops operate in virtually every sector of the economy, have a combined membership of 18 million and employ 150,000 people. All co-operatives are guided by a set of seven principles. The GDC is an example of the sector living up to the sixth principle: co-operation among co-operatives.