How We Work

Oikocredit believes in co-operation and partnership to achieve our aims. This is reflected in the many trusted, long-term relationships we’ve built with social enterprises and other partners across the world. 

The partners who help us raise capital

We raise much of our development capital direct from the public but also rely on capital-raising partners and member-shareholders of the co-operative to help us grow our outstanding capital.

Institutional member-shareholders and Support Associations (SAs)

We have around 575 member-shareholders in the Oikocredit co-operative, mainly faith-based institutions, Support Associations (SAs) and the Oikocredit International Share Foundation (our public investment vehicle).

Situated in all of Oikocredit's capital-raising countries except the UK & Ireland, Support Associations are separate legal entities that are usually member-shareholders of the Oikocredit co-operative and represent around 70% of the funds invested in Oikocredit.  Our SAs rely on the hard work of committed volunteers to raise awareness of development issues and encourage socially responsible investing (SRI) from individuals, churches and social enterprises. SA members may also serve on the Oikocredit International Supervisory Board and other committees.

Banking partnerships and credit unions

More recently we also have developed partnerships with social banks and credit unions to help us broaden our investor base. Social banks who support us with 'white label' products are all members of Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV):

  • GLS (Germany)
  • Crédit Coopératif (France)
  • Banco Etica (Italy/Spain)
  • ABS (Switzerland)
  • Ekobanken (Sweden)
  • Kindred and Vancity Savings Credit Unions (Canada)

The UK & Ireland

We are supported in our capital-raising efforts by our investors and co-operative member-shareholders (e.g the Church of Scotland), as well as impact investing partners and our memberships and affiliations.

The partners in whom we invest your capital

Oikocredit never finances organisations that are involved in activities such as child labour, arms production, explosive or dangerous materials.  We use rigorous criteria to select and monitor the financial, social and environmental focus of our partners. They must: 

  • Be experts in inclusive finance, agriculture and renewable energy projects that will create income and jobs for financially-excluded groups - particularly women and rural communities.
  • Be at mid-stage growth, revenue-generating, financially sustainable (or can soon become so) and have suitable governance in place.
  • Demonstrate a clear need for foreign investment and be looking for equity or debt funding of between 2m and 15m+.
  • Focus on activities that promote fair trade principles and adhere to strict client protection principles.
  • Appoint women to influential management and/or implementational roles.
  • Place responsible social and environmental impact at the heart of what they do, including adequate measuring and reporting of impact metrics.

Once we've committed to working with a partner, we adopt a patient capital approach, often without an exit strategy. We stick by our partners for the long haul. 

If, however, we determine that a partner charges excessive interest rates, pays excessive salaries or dividends, or does not see its clients as a priority, we reject the investment application or take active steps to rectify the situation before pulling out of the investment. 

Institutional capacity-building donors

Our investee partners often face more than financial challenges. Skill shortages, knowledge gaps or missing certifications can be obstacles to their financial or social goals. 

While Oikocredit’s core business is social investing, we top-up many of these investments with capacity building donations and programmes so that our partners can operate more efficiently and effectively.  These donations come primarily from specific institutions (e.g. the Church of Sweden) as well as dividends donated by investors.

Local technical experts deliver specialised services, which range from improving information management systems to developing new products or providing practical training in business, governance, social, or environmental issues. Each Oikocredit regional office has a dedicated staff member that identifies and monitors capacity building projects in their area.

This extra support helps our partners deliver the social and environmental returns that our investors expect. At the same time, capacity building mitigates the risks to which we expose your investments.