Monica Middleton on Oikocredit and how it is making a social and economic impact in disadvantaged parts of the world
In 2015, social impact investment pioneer and co-operative Oikocredit celebrated its 40th anniversary and its initiation by members of the World Council of Churches. Since 1975, Oikocredit has disbursed over €2 billion of its investors’ capital in 1,670 social enterprise partners (such as Divine Chocolate and Cafédirect and their farmer cooperatives) to provide vital finance and technical support to the most disadvantaged communities in the world.
Alongside agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure, a significant proportion of investors’ capital is invested in microfinance. In 2015, this ensured that 46 million financially excluded people (particularly women and rural communities) in low-income countries received vital access to finance, as well as educational programmes, training and other infrastructure requirements.
Alongside financial returns, measurable social and environmental outcomes are at the core of Oikocredit’s activitiesMonica Middleton
From organic agriculture that reclaims land in the Egyptian desert to solar lamps that bring affordable lighting to remote Indian villages, Oikocredit investments are making a real difference in the developing world.
Oikocredit invests where others deem the profits too low or risks too high, such as remote, rural communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Alongside financial returns, measurable social and environmental outcomes are at the core of Oikocredit’s activities. These include decent jobs and better living conditions, fair trade and transparent governance, supporting small-to-medium sized enterprises, women’s economic empowerment, and affordable, clean energy for underserved groups.
Oikocredit’s investments are frequently supplemented with capacity-building donations (dividends from investors) to train and develop partners and their end clients in technical, economic, social and governance areas, whilst helping to reduce investment risks.
Frank Rubio, Oikocredit’s global head of agriculture, said: “Topping up our investment activities with capacity building donations is particularly important for smallholder farmers in low-income countries, where communities are increasingly faced with the devastating impacts of climate change on their food security and livelihoods”.
Today, Oikocredit has become a unique, worldwide network of more than 51,000 investors who promote Oikocredit through their commitment to the many challenges we face in the world.
As part of Oikocredit’s 2020 strategy, we aim to grow our development finance portfolio by 50%, thus increasing our investor base and our reach and positive impact.
Investment is open to organisations and eligible individuals via depository receipts in the Oikocredit International Share Foundation, which have yielded 2% gross dividends each year, every year since 2000. Investments can be in either Euros or Sterling and you can take your dividend, reinvest it, or donate it to Oikocredit’s capacity building fund.*
For more information visit www.oikocredit.org.uk or email our Scottish colleague David Cousland.
Monica Middleton is national director at Oikocredit UK and Ireland
*Terms and conditions apply. Your investment is at risk. It is not covered by a Financial Compensation Scheme and is potentially illiquid. If you are in doubt about the suitability of this investment, please contact a financial expert. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and repayment of your investment is not guaranteed