Cooperating for Change
Celebrating International Cooperatives Day: Coops play a central role in revitalizing the economy as we make our way past this pandemic.
While everyone has experienced the pandemic differently, economic challenges, loneliness, and loss have likely touched nearly every person on this earth. That’s both mind-blowing to consider and a reminder of our connectedness. As the impact of the pandemic continues to reverberate in our community, Kindred Credit Union is guided by our values and purpose every day. Ben Janzen, Director, Values Integration, Kindred Credit Union shares his thoughts.
Last year, just as the reality of the pandemic was settling in, Kindred launched the Crisis Care GIC. This 1-year guaranteed investment offered investors a competitive rate of return, and Kindred allocated an additional 0.25% to a pool of funds to support local organizations serving the most vulnerable. We donated $15,000 to community groups that offer emergency food access and health supports. In recognition of the massive ‘change in plans’ required around that time, we confirmed that grant recipients—from the Kindred Charitable Fund or other corporate commitments—could continue to count on our support in 2020, and they could use the funding as they saw fit.
As the pandemic took hold, we prioritized access to alternate channels. We started with digital membership opening and e-signature to video meetings, extended hours at our Member Contact Centre, and contactless banking solutions.
We worked to maintain our connection to our members while making it easier for people across the province of Ontario to experience Banking with Purpose wherever they’re at.
We believe that cooperatives will play an integral role in revitalizing the economy as we make our way past this pandemic. We are invested in two cooperative funds that are working nationally and internationally to improve our communities. The first is the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF), an innovative fund strengthening Canadian communities by filling a financing gap for cooperatives. As a member of CCIF, Kindred has committed to a $150,000 investment and, as it is a fairly new fund, we look forward to this being fully utilized to build and strengthen cooperatives across the country. Our second investment is $250,000 in Oikocredit International, a global cooperative that provides financial services and supports to improve the quality of life of low-income people and communities in a sustainable way.
We take the sixth principle, “cooperation amongst cooperatives” seriously and collaborate with our fellow cooperatives to make a difference locally and globally. The experiences of 2020 put inequities within our communities into stark relief and shone new light on the need for partnership and cooperation across industries. From unequal access to healthcare and systemic racism to the climate emergency, financial institutions are uniquely poised to address these complex issues.
As a co-chair of the Canadian Credit Union Association’s (CCUA) Community Impact Committee, I was inspired to hear the passion and commitment of our credit union peers. We met monthly to share our learning about continuing to serve members amidst changing health and safety protocols and provincial lockdowns, alongside equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts, as well as climate action.
Kindred experienced similar value within our international networks of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), an independent group of banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development, and the B Corp community, a global movement committed to using business as a force for good. This membership and certification, respectively, reinforced how much cooperation is needed to tackle the challenging issues before us and how cooperation can be part of creating long-term solutions.
Just as 2020 offered some unexpected lessons in resilience and managing expectations, 2021 continues to offer challenges that we must overcome. Hope is before us. Success will come, and it will come faster when we all work together.
The article is written by Ben Janzen, Director, Values Integration, Kindred Credit Union