Recipients of the 2021 Cooperation Canada Awards have been selected

Recipients of the 2021 Cooperation Canada Awards have been selected

The Cooperation Canada Awards recognizes excellence and merit in the field of international cooperation by awarding prizes to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves in the past year.

On February 9, Cooperation Canada presented the Karen Takacs Award to Rita Morbia for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the promotion of women’s equality. Rita exemplifies the qualities that Karen Takacs possessed; she actively promoted the movements for peace and democracy, women’s rights and indigenous self-determination.  

More details on the Karen Takacs Award here 

Cooperation Canada, in collaboration with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, presented the Innovation & Impact Award to Vinod Rajasekaran for developing Future of Good, a digital tool for publishing stories, news, analysis and commentary to make sense of our sector. 

Read more about the Innovation & Impact Award here. 

Cooperation Canada, in collaboration with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, also presented an Innovation & Impact Award to Cause for its innovation test project, “Mi Small Wef” No More: Eradicating Child Marriage in Sierra Leone by Working with Men in Sierra Leone, West Africa. 

Read more about the Innovation & Impact Award here. 

Congratulations to the winners! 

Zaida Bastos, Kehkashan Basu and Développement international Desjardins (DID) win the 2020 Cooperation Canada Awards

Zaida Bastos, Kehkashan Basu and Développement international Desjardins (DID) win the 2020 Cooperation Canada Awards

February 11, 2021, OTTAWA – Cooperation Canada announced the recipients of the 2020 Cooperation Canada Awards at its awards ceremony tonight: Zaida Bastos, Kehkashan Basu and Développement international Desjardins (DID). 


The Karen Takacs Award 

Cooperation Canada presented Zaida Bastos, former Development Partnerships Program Director for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), with the Karen Takacs Award for Women’s Leadership in International Development 

Zaida began working with PWRDF in 1998 and, over the years, served in several capacities, including as Africa Program Coordinator and External Funding Program Manager. Over the span of her career, she has worked for the Working Group on Refugee Resettlement, UNESCO in Paris and the United Nations Development Program in Angola. Zaida’s expertise focuses on community development, gender equality and organizational development and has worked to support effective training and the integration of prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse policies. 

“In our experience on the frontlines of community-based health and develop work in Burundi, we can think of no one who better embodies the dual focus of collaborative leadership and advancing women’s equality, empowerment and voices,” said Cathryn Christensen, Clinical Partnerships Director for Village Health Works and a colleague of Zaida’s. 

Zaida Bastos (left) in Tanzania. 


“Zaida’s peers and colleagues at PWRDF and representatives of the many development agencies and community partner organizations have benefited from her support, knowledge and passion over her many years of work in women’s leadership in international development,” said Will Postma, Executive Director for PWRDF. 


About the Karen Takacs Award 

Karen Takacs was a celebrated and cherished leader of the Canadian international community. For over 20 years, Karen worked tirelessly to improve the lives and advance the rights of women and girls locally, nationally, and internationally. Karen was a catalyst for collaboration in the Canadian international sector. Throughout her life, Karen was admired for motivating and bringing people together around a common cause. By way of encouragement, generosity, and humour, Karen led by mobilizing and supporting others. Following Karen’s passing in 2015, Cooperation Canada (then the Canadian Council for International Cooperation) created an award to honour her invaluable contribution to the fight for social and economic justice, and to celebrate the unique collaborative leadership she demonstrated throughout her career, including her time as Chair of the Board of Cooperation Canada. For the Canadian global development community, The Karen Takacs Award is a symbol of feminism, collaboration, advocacy, mentorship and resilience. 


The Innovation and Impact Awards

Kehkashan Basu (Founder and President of the Green Hope Foundationand Développement international Desjardins (DID) are the recipients of the 2020 Innovation and Impact Awards in Honour of Lewis Perinbam, presented by Cooperation Canada and World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award. 

A youth leader, global influencer, environmentalist, and champion of women and children’s rights, Kehkashan Basu is described by her peers as a trailblazer who has been challenging the status quo and breaking social strictures and taboos that impede the progress and rights of future generations. She is the Founder and President of global social innovation enterprise the Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 16 countries, empowering young people, especially those from vulnerable communities – amongst them, Syrian refugees, Rohingya refugees, children of prisoners in Nepal and Kenya, and Covid affected communities in Bangladesh and Liberia. 

“With COVID and all the other ongoing crises facing humanity, it is so easy and tempting to get discouraged and to retreat into our bubbles,” said Jean-Marc Mangin, Chair of the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award. “Defeatism was never in the DNA of Lewis Perinbam. This year’s winner of the Impact Award in honour of Lewis Perinbam, Kehkashan Basu, embodies fully his courage of the imagination and his can-do attitude that our age requires.” 

 Kehkashan Basu speaking at the United Nations on 2019 International Day of Peace (New York).


Cooperation Canada and WUSC awarded Développement international Desjardins (DID) with the Innovation and Impact Awards (organization prize) for its transformative approach in increasing the economic power of farmers in Colombia. The organization used innovative and impactful means through its design of the DECISION mobile applicationwhich facilitates the process of analyzing credit applications on the spot and promotes the secure financial inclusion of farmersBy the end of the project, 136,000 agricultural credits had been granted to 80,000 farmers; 15,000 farmers had received financial education (57% of whom were women), and these figures continue to increase. 

With its initiative, Développement international Desjardins (DID) helped make Colombia’s agricultural financial sector more inclusive, efficient, and secure for farmers. 


“Kehkashan Basu and Développement international Desjardins (DID) are leaders who embody the values and principles of these awards,” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO for Cooperation Canada. “They have both demonstrated dedication to being innovative in their approaches to their work, for which the impact will be felt for many years.” 


About the Innovation and Impact Awards 

Annually, Cooperation Canada and the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam celebrate and recognize Canadian individuals and civil society organizations (CSOs) that are doing impactful and innovative work. Cooperation Canada defines an Innovative Practice as a new or more impactful means of, or approach to, addressing development challenges and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable. An innovative practice can take many forms, it can be an innovation that is new to a particular context, but tried and true elsewhere.  In addition, the innovative practice could be an approach, technology, business model, policy practice, partnership and more. To achieve impact through innovation, an Innovative Practice should align with The Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact. 


Honouring Lewis Perinbam 

Lewis Perinbam, O.C, (1925-2007) was a pioneer in building the international development sector in Canada. He was the founding Executive Director of CUSO, the first full time Secretary General of the Canadian National Commission of UNESCO and the Executive Director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC). He joined a fledging Canadian International Development Agency in 1969 and became the founding director general of the NGO division. He later became the Vice-President of the Canadian Partnership Program where he launched several programs that made Canada a leader in civil society-government collaboration. He led the 2000 Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service which generated deep change throughout Government. The awards recognize his outstanding contributions and provide a reminder and a call for action that ambitious system-wide innovation is always possible. 


Media Contact 

Kat Guerin
Communications Manager, Cooperation Canada
[email protected] or 613-222-3009 


Stephanie Leclair
Director, Communications and Digital Transformation, WUSC
[email protected] or 613-761-3714 

Cooperation Canada urges federal government to boost international assistance to ensure global pandemic recovery

Cooperation Canada urges federal government to boost international assistance to ensure global pandemic recovery

International Development Week events to highlight need for federal government to make meaningful investments towards Sustainable Development Goals.


OTTAWA, Feb. 8. — As Canadians celebrate the impact of those working to help people in developing countries this International Development Week (IDW), Cooperation Canada is urging Justin Trudeau’s government to significantly increase assistance to developing countries devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure a global recovery.

Cooperation Canada — the national association of international development and humanitarian organizations participating in virtual events this week — says the federal government must live up to commitments on additional funding for historically disadvantaged countries, which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 effects. COVID-19 is not a crisis of a season – it has already left a lasting impact on all aspects of our societies – disrupting 25 years of progress in a matter of months. To help us build safer, healthier, more sustainable societies for us all, Canada should invest at least one per cent of its domestic COVID-19 response in additional international assistance funds in its upcoming 2021 federal budget and years to come.

“Support for developing nations is more important than ever in the current global health and economic emergency,” said Cooperation Canada CEO Nicolas Moyer. “It is only through a unified approach that we will overcome these global challenges. Canada relies on the well-being of our international partners and no one will recover sustainably if half the world is left to navigate the devastating effects of this crisis alone.”


Living up to mandate and international commitments

Cooperation Canada’s recent report, In This Together: A Case for Canada’s Global Engagement, details the crushing impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable communities and people across the globe. With an estimated US$8.5 trillion in economic losses and 71 million people facing extreme poverty, the report warned the world is in danger of forfeiting the humanitarian and socio-economic gains made in developing countries with the help of collaborative international efforts over many decades.

Canada’s investment in international assistance of $6.2 billion in 2018-19 is equivalent to just 0.27 percent of the gross national income (GNI), well below international commitments and the contributions of peer countries.

Cooperation Canada welcomes the government’s recent pledges to do more. Last year, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $865 million for vaccine purchases and COVID-19 treatments in low- and middle-income countries. He also gave International Development Minister Karina Gould a renewed mandate to do more to support developing countries “on their economic recoveries and resilience.” This builds on a similar commitment in the Throne Speech to strive to ensure people around the world have equitable access to a vaccine and better therapeutic treatments.

“We look forward to a robust discussion this week on how we can build on this momentum to support a just global recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will enable Canada’s own recovery,” Moyer said.


Weeklong program challenges Canada to do more

Cooperation Canada will emphasize the need for increased aid spending as it takes part in online events for #IDW2021, Feb. 7-13, a weeklong program acknowledging Canadian contributions to fighting poverty and promoting humanitarian assistance in the developing world.

This year’s theme, “Go for the Goals,” focuses on the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals of gender equality, health and climate change.

Cooperation Canada’s virtual events will include meetings with members of Parliament to push for more ambitious policy and financing for international development, an award ceremony to honour women’s leadership and innovation, and the second unDebate — a respectful policy dialogue on overseas development assistance with politicians sharing very different views.


For more information, please contact:

Kat Guerin

Communications Manager

[email protected]





Go for the Goals



To mark the 30th anniversary of the International Development Week, The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and World University Service Canada (WUSC) launched the Innovation and Impact Awards, recognizing an individual and a Canadian organization for the contributions they have made to global development and humanitarian assistance. We speak to the two winners whose work span food aid, sanitation, and the empowerment of entrepreneurs.



This year marks the 30th anniversary of International Development Week – an annual initiative acknowledging Canada’s contributions to global humanitarian assistance. The theme for this year? ‘Go for the Goals’, referring to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), encouraging Canadians to tirelessly push for a better world, together.


Canada has countless examples of homegrown solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems, from health to housing. Growcer is a Canadian company addressing food insecurity by providing mobile growing systems to help individuals, communities, and organizations grow food locally and effortlessly — from the Arctic to the desert. Youth Challenge International empowers youth to create market-ready solutions to global problems by addressing issues around health, the environment and employment inequality. Several Canadian financial tech-for-good startups are helping Canadians out of debt, while Canada’s North continues to lead the way on a number of life-enhancing innovations.


In the last decade to achieve the SDGs, this type of ingenuity has become more crucial than ever. To celebrate those driving change, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), alongside the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, launched the Innovation and Impact Awards, to recognize Canadian individuals and organizations with a unique, innovative practice in international development and humanitarian response.


Photo: Canadian Foodgrains Bank


Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is this year’s Individual winner, in recognition of the groundbreaking work he has done in food aid policy.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank aims for a world without hunger by providing food in times of crisis for populations in developing countries. With Cornelius at the helm, the organization has advocated for public policy changes to enable communities to better feed themselves, while educating Canadians about global hunger. The Foodgrains Bank works with about 40 countries around the world, and has helped over 800,000 people to date.

In the past, food aid had been a means of disposing of agricultural surpluses. According to Cornelius, when he first joined the organization, 90% of grains commodities were being shipped from Canada. Despite feeding people, these shipments were negatively affecting local markets and food producers. “I did a big study on local purchase for the Foodgrains Bank and intellectually, it made sense to shift from Canadian shipments to local purchases.”

This shift would provide countries with long-term food security with smallholder farms benefiting from higher customer demands, while the food itself was closer to local diets.

Cornelius and his team were challenging the status quo. “It wasn’t just a matter of persuading policy makers and ministers — we had to persuade the agricultural community in Canada not to oppose the change. We did all the intellectual work to make the case, and then we had to do the political work. It took us 10 years.”

In April 2008, Cornelius and his team were successful in convincing the Canadian government to change the food aid policy, and today, the majority of Canadian food aid is purchased in developing countries. “It’s about building relationships and sorting through the political dynamics — understanding how you get people to work together for a common cause.

One of the things we were blessed with is a simple mission,” Cornelius adds. “We are focused on hunger, and connecting people to that.”


Photo: iDE


Much like the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, iDE — the organizational winner for the Innovation and Impact Awards — has worked closely with the Canadian government, as well as governments overseas, to execute their social impact mission. This non-profit addresses poverty by helping to build businesses in lower-income countries, enabling economic growth.

Stuart Taylor, CEO, says, “iDE has always had business at its heart. Our mission is really about creating opportunities for people who are living in poverty to find a sustainable way out of that, and to create prosperity on [the individual’s] own terms.”

iDE’s first project was building donkey carts in a refugee camp in Somalia. “The UN [thought it was] crazy — ‘this is a refugee camp, why are you talking about business’? But people who are living in those extreme circumstances, often by necessity, are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the world. So the project was successful. [People] have the creativity, the ingenuity, and the tenacity to find solutions, and to really create change within their own communities.”

It was iDE’s initiative, WASH, that earned them the Innovation and Impact Award. WASH was created to improve sanitation coverage through Sanitation Marketing: “[It’s about] paying attention to things like even what colour is [the latrine]? Is it titled, what’s the design? [We’re] rapidly prototyping so we know that the product that we’re putting on the market is really speaking to people’s desires,” Taylor says. “It has to be affordable, but sometimes people will pay a little bit more for something that speaks to their aspirations. We can sometimes forget  — or maybe wilfully ignore that.”

In Cambodia, iDE saw great success, with the sale of 309,692 latrines as of 2019.

iDE also provides innovative social assistance to support those wanting to make an investment, including a psychometric test. “It gives us a sense of this person’s likelihood of being able to pay their monthly instalments,” Taylor explains. “It’s really looking at their attitude toward money. It’s based on an evolving and live statistical model that gives us a probability. It makes assistance so efficient because you don’t need bank statements and guarantors. It gives almost an instant response.”

iDE is a pioneer in market-based development. Today, the organization has impacted more than 23 million people globally through its numerous programs, with longstanding presence in 11 countries. 

International Development Week gives us the opportunity to celebrate Canadian contributions just like these. By presenting the Awards, CCIC and WUSC foster the growth of a more relevant, responsive, and effective global development sector — with innovation at its core.



Nickie Shobeiry is a freelance writer focusing on stories of social impact, entrepreneurship and the arts.
Impact and Innovation Awards – Winner Announcements

Impact and Innovation Awards – Winner Announcements

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, are pleased to announce the recipients of the Impact and Innovation Awards in Honour of Lewis Perinbam.

Jim Cornelius, the Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and iDE Canada are this year’s individual and organizational award winners. Both have shown the commitment and spirit to create long-lasting impact through new ways of addressing the world’s most complex challenges.

“During a long and fruitful career, Jim has demonstrated that Canadians of good will, from all walks of life, can effectively address food security, one of the world’s most basic needs, with imagination and empathy,” says Jean-Marc Mangin Chair of the Trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award. “In particular, Jim’s leadership at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank mobilized many Canadians, notably rural Canadians, in this struggle. Jim’s work reflects well on the legacy of Lewis Perinbam as his work demonstrates that Canadians are uniquely positioned in imagining new innovative and hopeful approaches to the wicked challenges that the world is facing.”

Ian Hamilton, Chair of the organizational award selection committee, said iDE Canada showed tremendous innovation through the Sama Sama project in Ghana.

“iDE Canada’s project has successfully addressed a massive sanitation challenge using a scalable and sustainable business model and blended financing solution,” said Hamilton. “They have tested new approaches to addressing the hardest to reach in rural areas where transportation is a challenge; addressed skills gaps during production through training; and iterated their approach to navigate an environment where over 26 languages are spoken. iDE has truly greeted challenges with inventive solutions, grounded in the local context and based on the needs and inputs of those using their product.”


About Jim Cornelius



Jim Cornelius has served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank for more than 20 years.  In that time, he not only led the organization, but in many ways also led the broader sector and food security community. Jim was instrumental in building innovative partnerships and uniting diverse stakeholders in strengthening Canada’s food aid responses. He also played a leadership role in facilitating the international development sector’s ongoing positive collaboration with the government. Not only has Jim supported the development of an impactful and aligned community in support of international development, he has also dedicated his time to mobilize Canadians in support of global challenges.


About iDE Canada



iDE Canada creates income and livelihood opportunities in development countries around the world. iDE Canada with partners across iDE has developed an innovative model to solve the significant challenge of sanitation in rural Ghana.  Driven by local engagement and leadership, the organization established a standalone business focused on selling sanitation products and services in a challenging market.


Honouring Lewis Perinbam:

Lewis Perinbam, O.C, (1925-2007) was a pioneer in building the international development sector in Canada. He was the founding Executive Director of CUSO, the first full time Secretary General of the Canadian National Commission of UNESCO and the Executive Director of World University Service of Canada (WUSC). He joined a fledging Canadian International Development Agency in 1969 and became the founding director general of the NGO division. He later became the Vice-President of the Canadian Partnership Program where he launched several programs that made Canada a leader in civil society-government collaboration. He led the 2000 Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service which generated deep change throughout Government. The awards recognize his outstanding contributions and provide a reminder and a call for action that ambitious system-wide innovation is always possible.

Canadians Support More Spending on International Aid

Ottawa, February 5, 2020 – The numbers are in: A majority of Canadians want their country to do more to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  

This year, for the 30th edition of International Development Week (February 2-8), the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) commissioned a public opinion survey to find out where Canadians stand on the issue of assistance to developing countries. 

The polling, conducted by Abacus Data, shows that 74% of respondents want Canada to either play a leading role, or at least match the contributions of similar developed countries.  

Official Development Assistance (ODA) helps the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people meet their basic needs, such as water, food, shelter, medical assistance, and education. It provides emergency goods and services in response to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises. Canada’s contribution to ODA currently sits at 0.28% of Gross National Income (GNI). That is 28 cents for every $100 of revenue.   

“When Canadians find out what proportion of our national wealth goes to ODA, they are usually surprised at how small the number is,” said Nicolas Moyer, President and CEO of CCIC. “While we also have our issues to deal with at home, we are a wealthy nation and we can, and should, at least do our fair share to help others around the globe,” he added. 

In 1969, following Canada’s leadership, the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pledged to assign 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) to development assistance. Since then, Canada has never come close to meeting that goal. In fact, the current 0.28% figure is the lowest in 50 years. 

Looking at why Canada should increase its level of ODA, a number of compelling reasons resonate with Canadians. Chief among them, and not surprisingly in the context of the current coronavirus epidemic, is how investing in health systems abroad can reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Indeed, 88% of respondents support this argument.  

Another advantage that ODA yields is of an economic nature. By providing aid, Canada helps to develop skills, attract investments, and build relationships that lead to new trading partners. Polling shows that 87% of Canadians think this is an excellent or good reason to increase ODA. Vietnam, where Canada has contributed more than $1.5 billion in development assistance, offers a clear example of this. In 1993, Canada’s annual two-way trade with Vietnam was $50 million. In 2018, it had grown to $6.5 billion. 

While these reasons make a convincing case for more ODA, the sense that, as one of the world’s largest economies, Canada has a moral obligation to help others also holds a lot of sway with Canadians of all political leanings.  

“Above all, we know that aid works, that it has tangible, measurable impacts on the lives of individuals and families that are trying to improve their circumstances and raise their hopes,” said Moyer. “That really is the best argument.” 


For more information about what CCIC and its members are doing during International Development Week 2020, please see here. 

For a memo outlining the Abacus Data polling results, please see here.



About CCIC: We are Canada’s national association of international development and humanitarian organizations. We represent 2,000+ Canadian organizations working to reduce poverty in developing countries and help survivors of humanitarian disasters. We advocate for an effective use of Canadian aid to assist the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world.