At Libro Credit Union, we’ve always known that working together is the best way to help everyone thrive. That’s never been more important than now, in times of rapid change. I’ve been using the phrase “forward together” a lot lately, and that sums it up well: if we work together, as a region, we can find success together in economic development and more.
Simply put, people who stand together can hold each other up, using each other’s strength to develop bonds that last. It’s the principle upon which credit unions are founded. At Libro, we’ve always done that with our coaching philosophy; we work with customers (we call them Owners because they own a share in the company) to set their goals and support them on their journey towards prosperity. And, in a wider sense, we continue this philosophy in our decisions as a company, seeking out partnerships with values-aligned people and organizations, so we can move forward together.
Our values matter to us a great deal. Libro is a cooperative. It’s a certified B Corp. It’s a company with a social purpose. As our marketing language says, we try to Make Money Better. This company exists to make an impact on communities, organizations and individuals in southwestern Ontario, always taking into account our four pillars of: housing; local food accessibility; employment and financial resilience. With every decision we make, we consider our impact on the issues that matter most to us as a company.
We can’t – we won’t – do it alone. Our partnership with WEtech Alliance, for example, is part of our determination to support startups in particular and small business in general across southwestern Ontario
WEtech’s award-winning ScaleUP Tech Accelerator program, proudly powered by Libro Credit Union since inception, recently graduated its 5th cohort, awarding a top prize of $20,000 to the winner – the largest ever in the program’s 5-year history. The four-month accelerator program provides one-on-one mentoring; cohort sessions; and access to provincial, national and global networks of programs and mentors, to a diverse cross-section of some of the region’s top scaling businesses.
Working closely with the experts at WEtech, we can more easily identify the places our support will have the best impact based on our values, and develop new partnerships with the entrepreneurs themselves. It just makes good business sense to move forward together.
We also work with the Accelerator in downtown Windsor, but our approach isn’t limited to Windsor-Essex. We also enjoy working with the Western Accelerator in London, with Small Business Centres throughout southwestern Ontario and with others. In London, for example, the small business centre has set up The Grove, the hub for agri-business where people can connect, innovate and grow, moving forward together.
Our partnership approach reaches across areas of our business. We recently announced we’re working with the fintech interVal, to support our business Owners in gaining better data about the value of their businesses, and we will continue to seek out such opportunities. And we partner with community organizations such as United Way, to make sure our support reaches the places it needs to be, and quickly.
Last year’s Recovery & Rebuilding the Region Design Challenges brought together some of the best minds in southwestern Ontario to turn ideas into action to tackle the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Stage One, individuals and teams from across Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, London, and Waterloo regions focused on responding to the immediate health and social challenges. While Stage Two focused on revitalizing and rebuilding our communities moving forward.
So, with that in mind, I would invite you to consider who you partner with. Of course, we want everyone to bring their banking business to Libro, because the stronger we become, the more impact we can make on people, communities and organizations in southwestern Ontario. At the same time, ask yourself: who are my real competitors, and who has values and goals that align with mine? If we are competing with our neighbours, instead of sharing and moving forward together, we’re missing opportunities, and everyone in Windsor-Essex, and the rest of southwestern Ontario, needs to grab every opportunity right now as we work to grow and thrive together.