2012 Annual General Meeting
CSI Regent Park, 585 Dundas St. East, 3rd Floor, Toronto, Ontario
December 4, 2012
2012 has been the U.N. International Year of Co-operatives. Around the world co-operatives in all our movement’s diversity have found ways to honour the alternative vision that the co-operative sector offers the world. During this year many co-operatives have worked hard to develop legacy projects, ways of keeping the hope and public awareness of co-operatives during IYC alive in the future. CAIC’s model of diverse investors pooling their resources to fund social enterprises and co-operative ventures has been taken up by other co-operative organisations as their legacy project, including the Canadian Co-operative Association. CAIC’s legacy project really can be found in such initiatives—-our 28 years of pioneering work is still perceived as new and exciting and our way of doing things seen as being essential in helping grass roots organisations meet real needs. CAIC may not get the public credit for this ground breaking work—articles in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star on this innovative approach to supporting local initatives have not mentioned CAIC—but there is real comfort in knowing that our vision continues to be one that is seen as radical and transforming.
Our year that just ended was significant in many ways. We physically moved to a place where social innovation is a given; our board and staff devoted a great deal of time to considering the long term viability of CAIC and the type of staffing model would best suit the changing times. We continued to help nurture the infant Canadian Alternative Investment Foundation and watched it take its first steps towards real independence. And our board and staff worked hard to meet the needs both of our member/owners and those who sought our help.
Moving our office was not an easy task. Finding new space was time consuming, but having a home at the Centre for Social Innovation is a great opportunity for CAIC. This work primarily fell on Valerie Lemieux’s shoulders, work which was on top of her ensuring our loans are fully performing, our board and advisory board packages are prepared and distributed, our public face on the web and Facebook up to date and the GMM planned and its logistics worked out. Fortunately, Gigi Inara has been able to provide additional administrative support for CAIC, taking some of this burden on with great results.
16 applications, both from new organisations and from those we have helped in the past were reviewed by the board during the past fiscal year. During that time 9 projects had funds advanced; two were approved but for different reasons did not have funds released and others had funds released after year end. Among those CAIC supported were community loan funds, a fair trade worker co-operative, social incubator sites, a housing co-operative and aboriginal housing. Beth Coates will provide more details of CAIC’s loan portfolio during her presentation later in the meeting. The board, the staff and the advisory board devoted many hours in reviewing the material submitted. Beth Coates also spent hours with potential applicants ensuring their proposals were well thought out before they came to the board for consideration.
Our loan work is made a lot easier by those who volunteer to serve on our advisory board. Jen Heneberry, Andre Schroer, Paul Connolly, Ted Hyland and Karen Knopf have together given over a quarter century of service to the work of CAIC. They help ensure that CAIC does due diligence on all the loans that come before us, while reminding us always of the social mission of CAIC.
The board of directors of CAIC—Fr. Paul Hansen, Moira Hutchinson, Sr. Doryne Kirby, Sr. Nellie Pomroy and myself—shared in the hard task of being practical idealists. We all have a history of working for social justice which underlies the stewardship role we have for the resources our members have entrusted to us. We would welcome additional work, though, both in terms of having more applications to review and in having more money to lend. And we’ll always enjoy having approval of new members on our meeting agendas.
These last tasks are ones our members share in—you are the eyes, ears and hands of our co-operative. You know who has needs that CAIC could help address; you know the charities that are out there which share our vision and could be encouraged to join our work. The strength and viability of the Canadian Alternative Investment Co-operative is our membership; communities that have a common vision of wanting to alleviate poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence and other attacks on those that share in creation. There is a realisation that our resources can do more together than we can achieve on our own. CAIC members have helped to reduce homelessness and urban poverty in Canada; CAIC members have helped new incubator centres of social innovation come into being; CAIC members have helped plant seeds of hope across the country and, through the partnerships some of our projects have in other lands, in places far beyond our ability to reach.
Thanks to our truly dedicated staff, our advisors, our board members and our member/owners CAIC continues to be a visionary presence in the world. Our annual meeting is a time to conduct business, reflect on the world around us and share together as a community which rarely comes together. It is also our recommissioning, our rededication to the mission of CAIC. At the end of the day when we leave here, let us leave with a renewed sense of delight in what we have achieved and a continued desire to build a new and better world for all.