Co-ops Build a Better World Campaign Launches

Co-ops Build a Better World Campaign Launches

$12-million initiative to promote global co-operative development

In celebration of International Year of the Co-operatives 2012, The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF) is launching a campaign to raise $12 million for global co-operative development.

Announced at the start of March, the Build a Better World campaign has already raised more than $1.4 million from its members, including Gay Lea Foods, the Co-operators, Vancity and Federated Co-operatives Limited.

CDF board chair Michael Barrett says the campaign reinforces the co-operative value of co-ops supporting co-operatives. The campaign also acknowledges a truth he’s seen first-hand, co-operatives are one of the most effective tools in reducing and eliminating poverty.

  Michael Barrett, CDF board chair, in El Salvador

“I’ve had the opportunity to go overseas and watch and participate in some of the co-operative development that’s taking place, and whereas sometimes in Canada we may see co-operatives as an economic model of the past, there is a lot of this globe that sees this economic model as their future,” Michael tells Axiom News.

Michael points to a recent example where CDF and the Canadian Co-operative Association donated funds to start a new co-op in El Salvador producing a tropical fruit drink from the leftover shell of cashews. The business is creating food from waste while kick-starting an entire industry for the community.

“They’ve created employment, and they are shipping their product across Central America,” says Michael.

But the Co-ops Build a Better World campaign aims to do more than launch new co-operatives; it plans to leave a legacy in the international year’s wake.

To do so, Michael says CDF will look to leverage its impact by partnering with organizations working on economic development like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to raise awareness of co-ops as a successful model.

Canada’s credit unions are recognized internationally for their leadership and governance, and Michael says the campaign will look to share this talent with other countries. This is already happening in Ghana, which is developing a credit union system to create community wealth and stability.

Michael adds the credit union initiative has an extra focus to develop women in leadership roles.

“Being able to build the leadership skills of women in the community makes an incredible difference within the economic viability of the credit union but also the community,” he says.

Finally, Michael hopes to see the Build a Better World campaign ignite interest and support from the broader co-operative movement, which can learn first-hand how co-ops are a global force for change.

“Yes, you can create a campaign that raises dollars but I really want to create an attachment with Canadian co-operative employees and members so they can see that there is connectivity between the dollar you donate and what actually occurs,” says Michael.

To learn more about the Build a Better World campaign or donate funds, click here.

Do you know of a co-op that is building a better world? Share your stories in the comments below.

Writer Bio

Camille Jensen's picture
Camille Jensen

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

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