International round-up

North America / Canada Desjardins – the largest associations of credit unions in North America – is supporting a fundraising campaign launched by Campus Montréal that will enable...

North America / Canada

Desjardins – the largest associations of credit unions in North America – is supporting a fundraising campaign launched by Campus Montréal that will enable three Canadian universities to carry out on-going research and study projects on the co-operative model.

The campus brings together HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and Université de Montreal, for a joint fundraising campaign. As part of this campaign, Desjardins has donated USD $3.5m to HEC Montréal and another USD $1m to Polytechnique Montréal.

Hélène Desmarais, chair of HEC Montréal, welcomed the new partnership, saying it will “contribute to our mission of training the next generation of managers and entrepreneurs by allowing us to better understand the co-operative approach to business development”.

South America / Costa Rica

The global co-operative brand has been adopted by the Americas region of the International Co-operative Alliance.

Formerly known as ICA Americas, Co-operatives of the Americas has implemented the new name and design after approval from its regional board.

A statement from the Costa Rica-based organisation said: “It is time for us to support the changes that will be adopted by all the regions of the International Co-operative Alliance, with a shared image that identifies us and differentiates us from other forms of business.”

To find out more about the identity, visit: www.identity.coop

Europe / Switzerland

A report published by the Geneva-based International Labour Organization’s Enterprise Department presents a collection of case studies on co-operatives in energy production, distribution and consumption, showing their contribution to the on-going search for ways in which the goal of Sustainable Energy for All.

According to the United Nations, 22 per cent of the world’s population do not have access to modern energy services. The report highlights the main advantages of energy co-operatives, such as low cost goals, good value for money, inspiring people, foster renewable energy and providing reliable services.

The report describes how co-operatives are bringing transformation to the energy sector from the bottom up. As community-based enterprises, co-operatives provide democratic local control over energy issues and offer a successful model for rural electrification.

Africa / Zambia

Co-operative leaders from across Africa are to discuss how co-operatives can promote financial inclusion.

The Financial Access conference in Zambia next month will bring together chief executives and senior managers from the continents savings and credit union sector.

They will discuss new approaches and what needs to be delivered in communities to improve access to finance.

Asia / Korea

Korean consumer co-operatives have laid down key priorities for 2014, which include strengthening co-op values and co-operation among co-operatives. Over 300 members and employees of Korean consumer co-operatives agreed on a common business plan for 2014 during a meeting hosted by iCoop, one of the six consumer co-operative federations in South Korea.

By 2014, iCoop hopes to achieve a turnover of KRW 480 billion, which would represent an increase of KRW 60 billion from 2013. iCoop also aims to increase membership to a total of 240,000 members. The organisation also hopes to open 25 new stores by next year. It plans to have 300 outlets and 100 co-operative schools by 2016. Another key objective for iCoop is to stabilise the iCoop credit card business.

Oceania / Australia

“Long a favoured model for Australian farmers operating in a risky and precarious industry, cooperatives seem increasingly anachronistic as greater numbers move toward demutualisation,” says food security expert Brigit Busicchia.

On academic website, The Conversation, Ms Busicchia adds: “Nowhere are the stakes higher than at the billion dollar grains marketing and logistics co-operative CBH, which is being pushed to corporatise and “tap equity and debt markets to fund growth plans”.

“Archer Daniels Midland’s failed $3.4 billion bid for CBH’s bigger rival GrainCorp put growers on notice that there were substantial opportunities for foreign investment to fund the co-operative’s aggressive growth plans. However, the managing director Andrew Crane said a commitment to the current structure remained.

“Ultimately the number of co-operatives is diminishing. In some ways, this decline may be a reflection of an ageing and reduced membership. It could also be fuelled by strong balance sheets that persuade members to give up ownership and control in return for a one-off cash payments.”

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