On July 2, we celebrated the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. In preparation for the occasion of #CoopsDay, Oikocredit US and Oikocredit Canada spoke with our peers and colleagues to discuss how cooperatives working in emerging markets are helping to build a better world.
Matt Eldridge, CEO of Oikocredit US, and Vaishali Dassani, Director of Oikocredit Canada, spoke with François Dionne, International Programme Director at SOCODEVI. He currently manages all SOCODEVI projects in 16 countries to support cooperatives and help them be catalysts of inclusive, sustainable socio-economic development.
“Some of the values that drive coop principles are democracy, equality, equity and solidarity which are all essential for the community living,” said Francois.
The next guest we spoke with was Berkin Shener from Genç İşi Kooperatif / Youth Deal Cooperative. Berkin did his graduate internship at the International Labor Organization in Washington D.C., and was also a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies where he earned a master's degree.
When asked about areas that need immediate investments and attention in order for cooperative communities to thrive and grow, Berkin had this to say, “Food Cooperatives, Women’s Cooperatives, and Youth Cooperatives are the three major cooperatives in Turkey working to build sustainable communities.”
Matt, along with Julie Scott, Director of Oikocredit Canada, next spoke with Julia Vlad. Julia leads the investment and portfolio management for the Toronto-based New Market Funds, including the Canadian Cooperative Investment Fund. Julia has 15 years of experience in banking, finance and the non-profit sector.
Julia expanded on areas where cooperatives can focus their efforts, "We need strategies to work on rising inflation and creating resilience around cooperatives. Climate Change is another area that needs investment. We do have solar and renewable energy cooperatives, but we need resources to scale them up.”
In the final interview in our International Coops Day series, we talked with Oikocredit International’s Director of Social Performance Innovation, Ging Ledesma. She joined Oikocredit in 1999 as Deputy Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, and was appointed to the Managing Board in 2012.
Ging spoke to the heart of Oikocredit’s mission and the modern day challenge of providing low-income communities access to technology. “For smallholder farmers, governance, business development, and entrepreneurship continue to be challenging areas. On the other hand, in the earlier years people had limited financial access, but now they face technology exclusion because of limited access to the benefits of digitization and automation.”
“The fact that cooperatives draw their membership from communities, I think that is a very strong foundation for unity.” - Ging Ledesma, Oikocredit International’s Director of Social Performance Innovation
We want to thank all the guests that took time out of their busy schedules to celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives and discuss the shared dream coops have to build a better world.