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Member Profile April 2015

Amnesty International Canada



CCA's FOSTERING project is establishing farmer-owned and managed credit unions and agricultural co-operative enterprises.

This month CCIC met with the new ED of the Canadian Cooperative Association, Michael Casey, to discuss the benefits of the cooperative model and some of CCA’s projects, among other things!


CCIC - This month you joined CCA as Executive Director. Welcome! How have your first few weeks been and what are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Michael Casey - As always at the start of a new job, the first couple of weeks have clearly been spent on a very steep learning curve, with significant doses of ‘information overload’ as one rushes to understand and process all the facets of a dynamic vibrant organization. I do have the benefit of having worked with CCA in Asia during the 1990s, so have some basic familiarity with the organization. Although, I must admit that the international development sector has changed significantly in the intervening years, and CCA has undergone major institutional and program changes and adaptations. What I am most looking forward to is being part of this hugely talented and energetic team of development professionals and working on the fascinating challenges and opportunities ahead.


CCIC - At the core of CCA's work is its cooperative model. Could you please briefly explain this approach to development and its value?

Michael Casey - A co-operative is a social enterprise business model founded on values and principles that respect the dignity and primacy of the human person and the community. These principles --  voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training, and information; co-operation among co-operatives; and, concern for community -- provide a true and effective alternative framework for sustainable development in a world too often overly-focused on and dominated by capital and individualism. Co-ops are about equity and community – key elements in the ongoing work to eliminate global poverty and exclusion.


CCIC - Can you please highlight one current CCA project that your team is particularly proud of?

Michael Casey - Our FOSTERING project in eight districts of the Eastern Corridor of Northern Ghana is a large ($8 million) initiative that is establishing farmer-owned and managed credit unions and agricultural co-operative enterprises to support farmers with the skills and inputs to produce more and better crops, and the financial and marketing services to secure higher household income. We are reaching over 42,000 women and men small-holder farmers in 5,400 households in 130 communities. We are mid-way through the project now (2012-2018), and despite many challenges, our long-term presence and partnerships in Ghana have enabled us to significantly improve nutrition standards and food security in the communities.  


CCIC - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the forefront of discussions within our sector. What impact do you expect they will have on your work?

Michael Casey - The SDGs are important macro benchmarks for the community of development practitioners and serve as a global high-level guidance for our work. While it is difficult to establish a direct correlation between the specific results of our projects and these indicators, they do provide a global ‘sense of direction’ and priority setting that assists us in our planning. We contribute to the CCIC-led discussions on these issues as part of the Canadian development community.


CCIC - CCA is a longstanding supporter of CCIC. Why is this important? What do you value most about membership?

Michael Casey - CCIC is the voice of our community of practice as international development organizations in Canada. CCIC brings us together for dialogue, sharing of experiences and lessons learned, and to articulate positions on government policy. The excellent quality of the research and sectorial analysis produced by CCIC has long been an important element for us. We have used CCIC materials to support policy-level discussions with other international agencies and partners in other countries, both northern and southern. CCIC also serves a very important role in supporting the public engagement and development education programs of its member organizations by providing think-pieces and op-eds that are used by us and others to educate and inform our general public in Canada.



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