International News round-up 16 – 29 July

Rwanda Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda Rwandan co-operators marked International Co-operative Day on 6 July with a conference featuring the country’s president Paul Kagame. The event, held in...


Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda
Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda

Rwandan co-operators marked International Co-operative Day on 6 July with a conference featuring the country’s president Paul Kagame. The event, held in the capital, Kigali, was part of a series of discussion forums that started in 2012, in which Mr Kagame aims to engage with representatives from different sectors.

More than 2,500 co-operators were in attendance as Mr Kagame thanked the sector for helping people to raise themselves out of poverty.

“As we celebrate 20 years of liberation, it is essential to recognise cooperatives and your role in our liberation from poverty,” he said. “Co-operatives means working together, joining hands and achieving more together than we can achieve individually.”

The government was committed to supporting co-ops,  he added, because they were key to achieving self-reliance and economic transformation.

Mr Kagame encouraged co-operative managers to improve their turnover, but said this had to be achieved by honest means and for the benefit of members. He also urged co-operative members to fight against corruption.


Andrew Crane, the Chief Executive of CBH Group, called for more diversity in the economy at the Business 20 (B20) Summit in Australia.

Dr Andrew Crane
Dr Andrew Crane

Every year, the summit brings together representatives from the business world to produce policy recommendations for the annual meeting of the leaders of the world’s top 20 economies. Although the summit has been running since 2010, co-operatives have not had a representative at the event until this year.

Rodrigo Gouveia, director of policy at the International Co-operative Alliance said the participation of a representative from the co-operative sector at the B20 Summit was a great achievement that should not be underestimated. He added that independently of the conclusions of the B20 Summit and the recommendations to the G20 leaders resulting from the discussions, “this should already be considered as a very positive outcome of the Alliance’s strategy in advocating for its members and the wider co-operative movement.” Read Mr Gouveia’s article on the Alliance’s website.


Co-operative leaders took part in an informal meeting of European Union development ministers where they discussed the role of the private sector in development. Representing European co-operatives at the event, Klaus Niederländer, director general of Cooperatives Europe, highlighted the important contribution of co-operative enterprises to development.

To showcase the contribution of co-operative enterprises, Cooperatives Europe has set up an online platform showcasing almost 300 ongoing development projects that European co-operatives are carrying out across the world.

He said: “Cooperatives Europe welcomes EU Commission’s invitation to participate in this event. We are very pleased to see that co-operatives are taken into consideration when talking about the private sector in development and that their contribution is recognised in the latest EU strategic documents on the issue. We are willing to take an active role in the implementation of these guidelines.”


The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) is running a photography contest to promote co-operative values. Already at its third edition, Co-op Hot Shot is open to photography enthusiasts from all over the world. Amateurs can enter the Online Fun category while professionals can submit their photos for the Open Print category. The pictures need to reflect one of the main themes of the contest: co-operation, self-help, equality, mutual help and care for others.

The public will decide the winners of the Online Fun category, but a panel of judges including Peter Chew, associate chief photographer at LianHe Zaobao Singapore Press holdings; Felix Chew, president of NTU Photography-Videographic Society; Bernard Teo, advisor to SAFRA Photography Club; and Dolly Goh, chief executive of SNCF, will choose the winners of the Open Print category.

Cash prizes for the winners amount to USD $6,000. Entries can be submitted until 10 September here.

Co-op Hot Shot is open to photography enthusiasts from all over the world
Co-op Hot Shot is open to photography enthusiasts from all over the world


Canada and Japan

Two co-operative banks are among the strongest in the world, according to this year’s index of the World’s Strongest Banks published by Bloomberg.

Desjardins, Montreal (Image: Simon Villeneuve)
Desjardins, Montreal (Image: Simon Villeneuve)

Desjardins Group, a network of 376 credit unions across Canada, came second in the rankings with an overall score of 21.1, the same score obtained by Norinchukin Bank, a co-operative bank serving 3,800 farms, fishing and forestry co-ops in Japan.

With six million members and 45,000 employees, Desjardins is the largest association of credit unions in North America. Norinchukin was founded as a government-owned co-operative 90 years ago and privatised in 1959. The bank,  now one of Japan’s leading institutional investors, currently serves 3,800 farms, fishing and forestry co-ops.

David Beattie, senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service, told Bloomberg the co-operative structure of Desjardins ensures there is no incentive to maximise short-term profits and can afford to have a solid basis of liquidity.


Co-operative leaders from Europe and the Americas took part in a first regional seminar for Latin America of the Policy Forum on Development.

The meeting was jointly organised by the European Commission and Latin American civil society organisations, with the aim of building closer relationships between European Union development policies, programmes and financial mechanisms and the civil society actors of the Americas region.

Twelve co-operators took part in the event, including Manuel Mariño, director of Co-operatives of the Americas and Marc Nöel, co-operative development manager at Cooperatives Europe.

Mr Mariño said the sector was grateful its contribution to development had been recognised, both in the private sector and as part of the civil society.

“We also appreciate that empowering women as entrepreneurs is considered a priority in the Commission’s document, as well as the reference made to informal economy and the possibility of transitioning to the formal economy, in which we think the co-operative model can play a very important role,” he said.

Mr Nöel added: “We are satisfied with the way the Policy Forum on Development is working. Collaborating with European organisations and making the most of these networks enables us to communicate more efficiently and effective.” Read more


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