At the International Summit of Cooperatives, where 2,800 people passionate about the cooperative movement gathered from 91 countries, Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, takes an enlightened and lucid look at the cooperative model as the event draws to an end:
“Cooperatives and mutuals have something in common: They were created by people to meet the real needs of people, often in times of crisis. And since their beginnings, they have proven themselves on a daily basis. On every continent and in all sectors of the economy.
Today, the world of cooperatives and mutuals includes one million organizations, one hundred million employees and one billion members. And because each member gets one vote, this makes the cooperative movement one of the most important democracies in the world. The 300 biggest cooperatives worldwide have an economic weight equivalent to the world’s ninth largest economy. Just imagine the total economic weight of a million cooperatives, no matter what their size!
The movement represents incredible strength, but it is a quiet strength; one we must continue to grow. It is an unknown strength; one we must continue to promote and communicate. Now more than ever, the world needs cooperation.”
The amazing power of cooperatives, an indication of the future
“The theme of the International Summit of Cooperatives serves as an invitation to think about the major problems facing the world economy and about the role of business in society’s evolution. The power to create and distribute wealth, to act with patient capital, to include rather than exclude, and to balance economic and social concerns, left and right. The power to demystify the economy so people can have a hand in building their future.
The Summit will showcase the contribution of cooperatives and mutuals around the world in order to reinforce our commitment and ambitions, will chart our way to innovation and growth so we can better meet our members’ needs and tackle global challenges. The Summit will also facilitate our business relations and partnerships so we can better serve our members and express our cooperative difference. It will promote the cooperative movement to the next generation of leaders and encourage them to get involved.”
“The world does not know us very well and our contribution to the well-being of individuals and communities is not always recognized. And yet even more cooperatives could be created, and we should provide them with better support to help them grow. Our members should be deeply convinced of the power of cooperation. They should be actively contributing to the development of lasting and sustainable cooperatives.
As academics, researchers, elected officers and other people involved day-to-day in the co-op sector, we must work together to realize the full potential of cooperation and cooperative organizations. As cooperative and mutualist leaders, it is our actions that will make a difference, and our ability, in each of our communities, to get other leaders on board.
More than ever, the world needs cooperation. Now it is up to the believers to become the leaders that bring our cooperative movement to the next level. Now is the time to cooperate in building the future.”