Desjardins in Canada and abroad

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Responsible citizenship

Desjardins in Canada and abroad

Desjardins Group is a vast caisse network that also encompasses our various service centres, our business centres and the offices of affiliated companies and those of our partners.

For more than 40 years, Desjardins has been supporting the creation and growth of community-based financial institutions in developing and emerging countries through Développement international Desjardins (DID). DID helps make an array of secure financial services accessible to millions of families and job-creating small businesses so their communities can take charge of their socio-economic development. DID was a global pioneer in the distribution and development of microfinance and is now a worldwide leader in the field with roughly 100 employees.

Putting development responsibility in the hands of local communities is the concept that drives DID's support of microfinance. This approach also helps set DID apart from other organizations working in this area.

Job creation

DID provided support to start 4 Entrepreneurs Financial Centres (EFCs), which in turn helped over 17,000 small businesses create jobs and grow economies in:

  • Zambia
  • Panama
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

And many women are involved as:

  • clients
  • employees
  • officers

“Thanks to the Centre I was able to grow my business and give my children a quality education while maintaining my financial independence.”

Jane Frances Mbalufu, a farmer and Zambia business centre client
(© France Michaud, DID)

Secure financial services

DID is constantly innovating. It designs high-performance technological financial solutions tailored to developing countries and implements them for its partners. These solutions include:

  • the Stratego business intelligence system
  • the intercoop transaction system
  • ATMs in marketplaces
  • the mobile savings system that uses cell phones to transmit data

“I can regularly send money to my family on the other side of the country. I also see how inter-coop transactions make it easier for members to pay back their loans.”

Seybou Coulibaly, a credit officer at a caisse in Mali's Nyèsigiso network
(© DID)

Sound governance of microfinance institutions

For over 15 years, DID has been managing investment funds with an eye to strengthening the microfinance sector, and 2012 was a great year in that respect:

  • 43% growth in funds under management and 91% increase in amounts invested
  • new directed investment strategy for microfinance institutions
  • addition of 4 new partners in 3 countries:
    • Ecuador
    • Colombia
    • Azerbaijan

A total of 60% of Fonds Desjardins pour la finance inclusive, a $10-million fund launched in December 2011, has already been invested. At the close of 2012, nearly $22 million was invested in various funds managed by DID.

“DID's partnership-based investment approach aims to promote the emergence, growth and development of solid, professional microfinance institutions, strengthen their governance and help them access international financial markets.” DID Vice-President Anne Gaboury

DID is working at making products and services more easily accessible to Panama entrepreneurs thanks to Desjardins Fund for Inclusive Finance investments.


Visit the Développement international Desjardins website.

Children's education

In places where steady paycheques may be rare, access to credit can make it possible for parents to send their children to school.

“In Haiti, 89% of children whose parents receive credit for school fees have a successful year and can move on to the next grade. That number is just 70% for children nationwide.”

Gabrielle Confident, a school principal in Haiti and partner of her community's caisse populaire.
(© Karina Turgeon, DID)

Taking the cooperative model global

In 2006, community finance institutions coordinated by DID came together to form the international Proxfin network. Support provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and network initiatives driven by Développement International Desjardins allow Proxfin to:

  • foster communications and discussion among its 29 member institutions
  • develop good microfinance practices

Proxfin members also actively participated in the International Summit of Cooperatives, and 5 of its representatives were invited to share some of their innovations as conference presenters.

Contribution to the development of financial cooperatives in emerging countries 2012 2011 2010
Number of members or clients from DID partner institutions 8,836,983 8,446,672 7,534,493
Savings volume of these institutions $2,645M $2,299M $2,027M
Outstanding loan volume $3,158M $2,456M $2,132M