On November 16, 2019, Développement international Desjardins turned 49. For the occasion, we would like to share five little-known historical facts about our organization.
An evolving identity
In its first 10 years of existence, DID was known as the International Corporation for Regional Development Ltd. (CIDR). It was also referred to as CIDR-Canada, so it wouldn’t be confused with the similarly named French organization that had helped it get started. Then, in 1980, CIDR became the Société de développement international Desjardins (SDID). The name Développement international Desjardins (DID) was only adopted some 15 years later.
From avenue Bégin to … avenue Bégin
DID’s offices have had a number of different addresses in the last 49 years, but they didn’t travel far! CIDR’s first location was 55 avenue Bégin, in a building that belonged to the Fédération des caisses populaires Desjardins at the time. Its first move took place at the beginning of the 1980s, when the organization set up shop in the Cité Desjardins at 150 avenue des Commandeurs. Almost 25 years later, in 2014, DID moved into the Desjardins Building at 59 avenue Bégin, right next door to its first head office.
Projects in Quebec and in rural development
Even though DID focused on international development from the start, it launched a number of projects in Quebec in the years after its inception, mainly with First Nations. Then, for several decades, it mainly worked abroad. However, in 2014, DID resumed its local activities, supporting the solidarity-based finance programs of Desjardins caisses.
What’s more, during its first 20 years of existence, DID carried out projects in both the financial sector and the rural development sphere. For example, between 1977 and 1989, DID provided technical and financial support for the institutional development of a rice growers’ cooperative in Rwanda’s Mutara valley. From the 1990s on, DID specialized in inclusive finance only.
Concern for women
Women’s empowerment has been a DID priority for a long time. Early on, DID participated in projects specifically for women, including an arts and crafts production cooperative in Burkina Faso and a women’s association in Niger.
DID on TV
All through its history, DID has sought to raise its profile within Desjardins Group and with the public. For instance, between 1993 and 1996, DID had a partnership with Course destination monde, a Radio-Canada television show with news stories by young people travelling to different countries around the world. A number of Quebec filmmakers worked on the show, including Denis Villeneuve, Ricardo Troggi and Philippe Falardeau.
Written in collaboration with the Société historique Alphonse-Desjardins.