Speaking this week to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (Canada), Guy Cormier (pictured), Chair of the Board, President and CEO of ICMIF member Desjardins Group, announced the creation of a $100 million development fund that will increase Desjardins's “capacity to act”. The Desjardins Group is the world’s sixth largest cooperative financial group.
Reflecting upon a major commitment he made during his campaign to become Desjardins's next president, Cormier said that, over the next three years, the fund will "invest in entrepreneurship, business development and in economic and social innovation projects in the regions where we're active. We'll also be able to concentrate more on community projects."
Cormier told Chamber members that funding examples could include the launch of a cooperative focused on providing local services, a program that meets specialized workforce needs for regional businesses or the creation of entrepreneurship centres, to name a few.
Cormier wants the fund to work through the caisses and business centres, as they understand their communities and members best and have developed the relationships needed to identify projects to support. His goal is "to reinforce Desjardins's role as a socio-economic leader across Quebec and key areas in Ontario in which our caisses serve to fulfil our purpose: to enrich the lives of people and communities."
Youth advisory board
Another one of Cormier's key priorities is connecting with youth. During the speech, he announced the creation of a youth advisory board made up of Desjardins members, elected caisse officers and employees, all between the ages of 18 and 35.
"The group will provide input to members of the Desjardins Board of Directors and to senior managers during the decision-making process. I have committed to making a rapid shift into the mobile and digital space. Desjardins will be asking the youth advisory board members how they envision that shift, what they expect from Desjardins, and how we should foster cooperation in 2016 and in the years to come."
A partner for Montreal
Cormier went on to address the scope of Desjardins's presence in Montreal, and how significant investment in the past several years has turned the city into an innovation incubator for Desjardins.
"We are reinventing the way we serve our members, reaching out to youth for example, by offering tailor-made solutions for them in locations close to several university campuses. And we are connecting with new members in new places using other innovative distribution models. Our successful initiatives in Montreal are moving us forward to ensure we keep meeting member's needs and expectations. We can then adapt what works and export it to other regions."
In closing, Cormier said he wanted Desjardins to play an even larger role "for our members and clients, in our communities and—on a larger scale—as we meet the challenge of creating solutions for sustainable and long-term economic growth."
He said Desjardins will continue to assert its position across Canada and its openness to the world, while remaining firmly rooted in communities and mindful of its purpose.
"At Desjardins Group, we will be working together as a unified organization that is people-focused, modern, high-performing and easy to do business with," Cormier concluded.