Paul Kelly has been a credit union member since the 1970s when a credit union was the only financial institution to help him purchase his first car. An executive at First Calgary Financial since 1995 – and currently the institution’s CEO – Paul believes that, “The co-operative credit union model is one of the few examples of pure democracy.”
Paul participated in the CDF-led Journey Out of Poverty study tour to Sri Lanka in 2011. There, he witnessed how CDF-funded co-operative development projects were transforming the well-being of the tsunami-ravaged region and rallying communities to rebuild after devastation. He points out:
“What may appear to be a small amount of money in Canadian dollars can be very significant when it is leveraged as an investment opportunity for capacity building, because the focus of a co-operative is on long-term sustainability.”
He also believes that, “Canadian co-operatives can learn a great deal from how the co-operative model transforms and sustains communities in developing countries. For example, micro lending works very well in Sri Lanka but we don’t use that as much here – we can learn from how it does work in developing countries.”
Paul was inspired to create a video and give presentations about his experience to staff and other credit union executives. He has also mobilized First Calgary Financial to fundraise for international co-operative development, and the organization donated $10,000 for CDF in 2011.
Paul adds: “CDF is a very efficient vehicle to raise funds. The donation matching is significant, but it’s also important to understand that your dollar is contributing to a long-term, sustainable vision of international development, based on the same values and principles that we as co-ops and credit unions believe in.”