Community prosperity

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Committed to our stakeholders

Community prosperity

By its cooperative nature, Desjardins Group participates in the economic development and vitality of communities in which it conducts business.

The vitality of a caisse and that of its community are closely intertwined. The caisse contributes to local vitality by financing projects or sponsoring certain local and regional events. The community, for its part, contributes to the health and profitability of its caisse through the members that use its products and services.

Just like buying locally supports jobs in a community, doing business with the local caisse is an act of socially responsible consumption because surplus earnings are returned to the community.

Regional economic development

Desjardins Group has adopted a regional economic development policy. The presidents of the 17 councils of representatives facilitate implementation of this policy since, in sitting on the Desjardins Group Board of Directors, they:

  • can have an impact on decisions that aim to support sustainable prosperity in their region
  • are regularly consulted about topics that have an impact on the future of cooperatives in their region

In every region, councils of representatives promote cooperation between caisses and have decision making powers with regard to:

  • regional business plans
  • representation at social and economic organizations in their region
  • the granting of donations and sponsorships
  • the implementation of socio-economic development initiatives

Desjardins has also formed partnerships to develop the regions in a sustainable way. Here are a few examples:

  • Involvement in the working group on multifunctional rural land use under the 2007–2014 National Policy on Rurality
  • Cosignatory of the Shawinigan DeclarationPour un Québec fort de ses communautés (for a Quebec made strong by its communities)—submitted to the Quebec government in April 2010 by Solidarité rurale du Québec (SRQ)
  • Support for and involvement with the regional consultative tour and theme-based forums for the renewal of the National Policy on Rurality
  • Chair of the Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité's sustainable development advisory committee
Creating local jobs

In 2001, Desjardins adopted a policy to decentralize activities to the regions. One of the goals of this policy is to determine whether activities initially planned for large urban centres can be decentralized to the regions. For example, in 2011, Desjardins set up an AccèsD Services client contact centre at Carrefour de la coopération in Granby, creating dozens of jobs in the area.

Community Development Funds

Community Development Funds (CDFs) illustrate the spirit of solidarity that motivates caisse members. At their caisse general meeting, members decide to give up part of their individual dividends to replenish their CDF, which is managed by the caisse's board of directors. By contributing to this fund, caisse members can support important projects that meet the needs of their community and contribute to its development.

Total paid in support of initiatives in millions of dollars. 2010: 25.8. 2011: 30.2. 2012:41.3.

A few examples of projects carried out using CDFs:

Town school saved
Group photo Gilles Provencher, Vice-President of the Caisse Board of Directors, Ghislaine B. Lampron, City Councillor, and Suzanne Pinard Lebeau, Mayor of St-Lucien

By supplementing government assistance, Caisse populaire Desjardins de l'Est de Drummond helped save the school in the town of Saint-Lucien. Without this financial support, the school would have been forced to close and children would have had to travel long distances to go to kindergarten.

Encouraging kids to stay in school
Caisse Desjardins de Montréal-Nord's It Pays to Stay in School! bursary program

Caisse Desjardins de Montréal-Nord continued its scholarship contests as part of a partnership with Agence de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal and the City of Montreal for the It Pays to Stay in School! contest, which was designed to decrease dropout rates, a major problem that is the source of many crime problems in this neighbourhood.

Mont Orignal ski resort rescued
Group photo Harold Gagnon, Mayor of Lac-Etchemin, Marcel Fournier, Caisse Desjardins des Etchemins President, and Marc Lacroix, President of Mont-Orignal, a solidarity cooperative.

Officially created on July 15, 2012, Coopérative de solidarité du Mont Orignal helped save the Mont Orignal ski resort, which is a major socioeconomic driver in the:

  • municipality of Lac-Etchemin
  • Les Etchemins RCM and local development centre
  • Community Futures Development Corporation

With its $150,000 contribution, Caisse Desjardins des Etchemins rounded out the public financing, and the 2012–2013 season was successful, meeting the cooperators' expectations in terms of visitor traffic.

Rewarding individual initiatives

The Ruralia-Desjardins award rewards projects stemming from individual initiatives that have mobilized entire rural communities and stood out for their innovation and ability to bring people together, with a focus on sustainable prosperity. The success of the first award competition and the quality of applications received persuaded Desjardins Group to increase the number and dollar amount of awards given out.

Winner of the first Ruralia-Desjardins award

Coopérative Baie-Johan-Beetz representatives

Coopérative de solidarité de Baie-Johan-Beetz received the first Ruralia-Desjardins award for the creation of "Les Choix de Marguerite”, a local multiservice centre.

Special mention

Intergenerational bicycle park project (received jury's special mention)

The intergenerational bicycle park project submitted by Alexandre Poulin, age 13, and his Port-Menier colleagues on Anticosti Island received the jury's special mention.

These 2 projects were supported by Caisse Desjardins de Havre-Saint-Pierre and Caisse populaire Desjardins de Mingan-Anticosti.

Desjardins Group made its mark through considerable involvement in the communities it serves. Over $85 million was reinvested in the community through sponsorships, scholarships, bursaries and philanthropic partnerships. This amount includes the $41.3 million paid out by the Community Development Fund.

Here are just a few of the events and initiatives Desjardins Group has supported as a partner or sponsor.

Sector Sponsorship Philanthropic partnership
  • La Dictée P.G.L. (Paul Gérin-Lajoie)
  • Quebec Entrepreneurship Contest
  • Official sponsor of Réseau intercollégial des activités socioculturelles du Québec
  • École d'entrepreneurship de Beauce: three $27,500 academic scholarships awarded to businesswomen for the quality of their career paths and accomplishments
  • Jumelage des élus program to get youth involved in their community's civic life
  • Rendez-vous du savoir
  • Chaire en éco-conseil de l'Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC)
  • École Polytechnique de Montréal's International Life Cycle Chair
  • Scholarship fund with Fondation de l'Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)
  • Scholarship fund with Fondation de l'Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)
  • Solidarité rurale du Québec
  • Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité: Forum coopératif et mutualiste
  • Fondation pour l'éducation à la coopération et à la mutualité: youth and Caravan de la coopération programs
  • Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario's convention during the International Year of Cooperatives
  • International Summit of Cooperatives and the pre-summit event Imagine organized by Saint Mary's University
  • Rendez-vous du savoir
  • Guy Bernier Chair in Cooperative Business (UQAM)
Health and healthy lifestyle habits
  • Grand défi Pierre Lavoie
  • Operation Red Nose: organized various initiatives to raise public awareness about good driving habits
  • Dérapages, a film designed to make young drivers ages 16–24 aware of the dangers of reckless driving
  • 5/30 Health and Wellness Challenge
  • BIXI and Vélo-Québec
  • Jeunesses musicales of Canada
  • Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal
  • Art exhibition in Lac-Etchemin
  • Primary sponsor of Cirque du Soleil's touring shows
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation
  • National Theatre School of Canada

Winter Summit in Quebec City

The second Winter Summit took place in January 2012. This David Suzuki Foundation initiative, presented by Desjardins Group, is an event to raise awareness about the repercussions of climate change on our winter season and on Quebec culture.

International Observatory on Financial Services Cooperatives at HEC Montréal

HEC Montréal's Desjardins Centre for Studies in Management of Financial Services Cooperatives proposed the creation of the International Observatory on Financial Services Cooperation. Its mission: contribute to the development of scientific analysis of financial services cooperatives and their environment by providing academic and institutional researchers access to existing knowledge and relevant data.

Festival de St-Tite

Desjardins is proud to sponsor a large number of regional events, including:

  • Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée
  • Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival
  • Festival de Lanaudière
  • Festival Western de St-Tite, a 45-year partnership

Volunteer activities

Desjardins Group employees are involved in a variety of humanitarian causes.

Desjardins Card and Payment Services' Cooperaction Program

Launched in 2011, the Desjardins Card and Payment Services Cooperaction Program promotes cooperation and recognizes employee involvement in non-profit organizations by:

  • making a financial gift to the organizations its employees support
  • providing a paid work day to employees who are significantly involved

In 2012, total donations made by Desjardins Card and Payment Services came to over $151,000 and covered 62 causes, including:

  • research on a variety of diseases (cancer, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, etc.)
  • research to combat early childhood diseases
  • education
  • employment assistance
  • cultural organizations
  • homelessness
Work with us for the children! day

For the past 10 years, Desjardins Securities has been the preferred partner of the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation, which contributes concretely to the well-being of children, primarily those in need.

Thanks to their combined efforts on Work with us for the children! day, January 17, 2012, Desjardins Securities and Disnat investment advisors and employees collected $342,000, which brings the total amount of donations collected since the beginning of the partnership to over $3 million.

Nearly 30 years of volunteer work with Operation Red Nose
Operation Red Nose, Desjardins General Insurance

Desjardins General Insurance is an Operation Red Nose partner. In connection with this partnership:

  • 72 volunteers (employees and their friends and family) signed up for the Desjardins evening on November 30, 2012
  • 200,000 decorations for Operation Red Nose Christmas trees were distributed
  • seasonally appropriate prevention tips were provided

Desjardins has set up programs to support entrepreneurs in developing their businesses. In addition to these programs, entrepreneurs also have access to products specifically designed to meet their needs, such as CRÉAVENIR and Desjardins Microcredit to Businesses.

Investment in development capital

Desjardins Group's development capital investment activities have many economic spinoffs in areas where Desjardins Group business partners are active. In addition to supporting and creating jobs, these activities:

  • help individuals acquire expertise
  • promote the emergence of leaders in various areas
  • create economic activity that is essential to regional vitality

Development capital investments come primarily from Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins, a public fund with 106,000 shareholders, created by Desjardins Group and managed by Desjardins Venture Capital.

Shares of the fund are distributed through the Desjardins caisse network, and its management team's expertise ensures that this capital is invested in Quebec SMEs and cooperatives. Here are some data for 2012:

Investments in development capital managed by Desjardins Venture Capital
Investments (at cost) in development capital in Quebec $804.0M
Investments (at cost) in cooperatives or other businesses located in resource regions $165.3M
Number of businesses, cooperatives and funds supported in Quebec 380

Investments (at cost) in controlling interest (company buyouts) in millions of dollars. 2010: 67.2. 2011: 90.7. 2012: 121.9.

Prêt à entreprendre program

The aim of the Prêt à entreprendre program is to discover Quebec's most promising entrepreneurs and help them grow their businesses. The financing program has a budget of $7 million over 3 years and provides technical support, mentoring and interest-free loans to eligible new entrepreneurs.

The program was developed in conjunction with other economic partners in order to pool expertise and networks:

  • Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
  • Quebec's Ministère des Finances et de l'Économie
  • Desjardins Group and Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins
  • Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec
  • Québecor
  • Fondation de l'entrepreneurship

The program supports entrepreneurs during the critical period of the business development process, i.e., the first 5 years of operation.

Learn more about the Prêt à entreprendre program.

Helping young farmers and the next generation of agri-food producers

At Desjardins Group we believe in the importance of lending a helping hand to a new generation of local producers, which is why we support young farmers through 2 programs.

Fonds coopératif d'aide à la relève agricole (cooperative assistance fund for future farmers)

Since 2008, Desjardins Group has worked with La Coop fédérée and Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec to show our support for and commitment to young farmers, entrepreneurship and education. With the Desjardins Farm Transfer Grant component, prize winners (ages 18 to 40) are eligible for $8,000 in financial support through principal payment reductions.

The awards ceremony takes place during the Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards gala. This event is a unique opportunity for young farmers to network with businesspeople in various sectors of the economy.

Fonds d'investissement pour la relève agricole (farm succession investment fund)

Fonds d'investissement pour la relève agricole (FIRA) was created in 2010 by the Quebec government, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins. The fund encourages entrepreneurship in young people by giving them access to innovative financing solutions to support them in their plans to start or expand a non-family business.

These solutions include subordinated loans and farmland lease agreements. Entrepreneurs who receive financial assistance from FIRA can purchase shares or assets (movable and immovable) in a farming business.

Partners of the 5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists

Some 40 caisse network professionals attended the 5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists, the theme of which was "Feeding the World – Agrologists: Front and Centre in Facing the Challenges of Local and Worldwide Food Production." The urgent need to help advance the Canadian and global agri-food industry and publicize its importance to consumers and the general public was a clear conclusion of the discussions.

Au Cœur des Familles Agricoles

The community organization Au Cœur des Familles Agricoles assists farming families and the new generation by directing them to the most appropriate community health resources in their area. Desjardins Group takes part in this organization's initiatives as first financial lender in Quebec.

Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards
Welcoming words at the 2012 Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards gala event

The Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards pay tribute to people who, through their creativity, initiative and leadership, play an essential role in community outreach and development.

The awards are divided into 9 categories, including:

  • sustainable development
  • cooperatives
  • young entrepreneurs

To be eligible for a Desjardins Entrepreneur Award, companies must:

  • show sound financial performance
  • contribute to the well-being of their communities
  • proactively manage the impact of their business on the environment, from a sustainable development perspective

We also seek to maximize Desjardins's involvement with cooperatives in the country and coordinate our comprehensive range of services across Canada.

The Desjardins Art Collection

The Desjardins Art Collection demonstrates our commitment to the arts, artists and our artistic heritage. It contributes to the vitality of visual arts today and the presentation of our collective heritage.

Nearly 2,500 works are displayed throughout Desjardins offices in Lévis, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City and Toronto, providing a touch of humanity and beauty to the workplace. Our annual acquisition program encourages contemporary creation through the purchase of works by Quebec and Canadian artists—young creators in particular.


Ed Pien

Lair of the Fox Creature, 2006

Ink on hand-cut Shoji paper

99 x 136 cm

Desjardins Art Collection


Alexis Lavoie

En pièces (16), 2012

Oil on canvas

122 x 122 cm

Desjardins Art Collection


Manon De Pauw

L'apprentie 2, 2008

Inkjet print on archive paper 5 \ 7

56 x 76 cm

Desjardins Art Collection

On top of the direct economic benefits of our core activities, Desjardins generates economic spinoffs by:

  • paying taxes to the government, which are reinvested in society
  • providing our employees with benefits and paying them salaries that they in turn reinvest in a wide array of goods and services, both in the regions and urban centres
Indirect economic spinoffs (in millions of dollars) 2012 2011 2010
Income taxes 489 471 438
Indirect taxes 817 751 760
Salaries 2,396 2,321 2,173
Benefits 486 461 428