Desjardins Cooperathon: Innovation tackling social issues head on

30 August 2019


The Canadian financial cooperative Desjardins has this week announced that the fourth edition of the Cooperathon will kick off on 2 October 2019 from Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The event is designed to bring hundreds of changemakers together to workshop entrepreneurial projects with strong potential for social impact. 

Kick-off (2 October)

Day one of the event is open to the general public and features internationally-renowned speakers addressing the themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and social impact. 

“I’m very proud of the programme we’ve put together. It relates directly to Desjardins’s values of engagement, intercooperation and community solidarity. I’m honoured to be welcoming Chris Hadfield and to have the opportunity to speak with the world’s youngest cooperative banker!” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins.

Kick-off activities include: 

  • A discussion between Guy Cormier and José Adolfo Quisocala Condori
  • An address by Chris Hadfield, first Canadian astronaut to walk in space
  • An address by Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, a leading P2P micro-credit website, and Chief Impact Officer at Aspiration Bank
  • An address by Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of Wired
  • The North American premier of Demain est à nous, a documentary by Gilles de Maistre

Competition (2 October to 20 November)

Backed by almost 100 partners, the Cooperathon is a platform for project sponsors and teams to create positive social impact in their communities. Partners include Deloitte, an official partner for the fourth edition, the City of Montreal, Sollio Agriculture, Hydro-Québec and Prompt, all of whom will be challenging changemakers in Quebec and Ontario. Students, professionals, entrepreneurs and the socially-conscious are welcome to bring ideas to the competition and create innovative solutions to a series of challenges affecting society at large. The challenges have been created by experts in their respective fields and are based on six tracks: finances, the environment, agriculture, energy, health and education.

Once the challenges are announced and ideas are submitted, Desjardins and Cooperathon partners will monitor and support the semi-finalists for 28 days. Valued at CAD 5,000, the personalized support includes project meetings, workshops and training with a variety of accredited experts.

The competition will wrap up on November 20 with the grand finale at L’Olympia de Montréal. The winners will receive grants and funding totalling over CAD 100,000.

Financial health – A priority for Desjardins

The 2019 edition of the Cooperathon will take a new approach as Canadian socio-economic leader Desjardins invites participants to consider the following problem: How do you get people interested enough to buy into their financial health?

Many studies show that Canadians rank money as their greatest source of stress. The Stanford Social Innovation Review recently noted a correlation between financial precarity and poorer personal health. Guy Cormier addresses Desjardins’s challenge specifically: “Financial literacy and education translate into good financial health. It’s essential to take action on this front and that’s why I’m challenging changemakers. I want them to come together to reflect and propose innovative solutions that will make a real difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to see the results!”

For more details about the Cooperathon, go to

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