The people's banker
By implementing his dream of the caisses populaires, Alphonse Desjardins
helped fight the cycle of poverty in French Canada. Raised in a poor family, he understood a key dilemma facing the traditional, agriculture-based economy of Quebec. Banks preferred to lend to large companies, resulting in a shortage of capital for farmers and small businesses struggling to expand. For years, Desjardins — an ardent Catholic and active citizen in his community — dedicated every hour of his free time to building support for a cooperative movement that
would reinvest the savings of members in the local economy. His dream came true in 1900.
The caisse populaire is truly an organization of the parish. It was born, nourished and developed in the midst of the parochial family, and that is
where it thrives. The parish is its natural birthplace, the focus of its activities.
It must not extend beyond those limits. Economically speaking, it is,
in a word, the extension of the parish.
Alphonse Desjardins, 1912