Blog posts from Oikocredit UK
What does an organic Fairtrade specialty coffee and social impact investing have to do with empowering some of the poorest women in the world?
In rural Minas Gerais, Brazil’s biggest coffee-growing state, women used to support their husbands on small family farms but had little involvement or say in the business or farming decisions. This changed forever in 2006, when Oikocredit investee partner, Coopfam (Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poço Fundo e Região) - a smallholder coffee co-operative, started to focus on empowering women to play an equal role in producing the Arabica coffee that had been a part of their lives for decades.
‘A year ago, having a TV was a distant': How affordable, solar power is bringing small home appliances to families in Africa
Johan Elsen, managing director of Oikocredit Belgium, visits Ghana to see the positive social and economic impact of affordable, solar energy on low-income families.
Seamstress, Veronica, employee of Helen Tetteh: Working in a micro business that is now powered by award-winning PEG solar technology. Photograph: Capture Ghana.
In northern India, the Ambootia Tea Group (DOTEPL) is using social impact investment to boost financial security and improve the livelihoods of its employees.
Tea pickers from Oikocredit social enterprise partner, Ambootia. Darjeeling India. Photograph: Opmeer Reports.
One in four of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, often relying on a few staple crops to meet their daily needs and generate a small income. They are also more likely to be affected by climate change since many scientists believe it to be responsible for the unpredictable, extreme droughts and rains that destroy harvests and lives. Since these rural communities have limited access to finance and technical support to build their smallholdings and create greater resilience, they rarely attain the economic empowerment they need to break free from the poverty cycle.
From financial exclusion, to tiny shop, to multiple businesses
Written by: Blanca Méndez, Oikocredit International
The Philippines 2017. Teresa Tomaro, “Dungganon” group member of the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation; and Blanca Méndez from Oikocredit International. Photograph: Nicolas Villaume.
Caroline Mulwa, Oikocredit Kenya Country Manager, speaking about East African women at the 2016 Africa Impact Investing Leaders Forum, highlighted that: “88% of Africa’s female population live in rural areas; 70% of agricultural labour is provided by women; 90% of all food is produced by women, but women own less than 2% of the land. Yet women have a significant, measurable, positive impact on small business ventures, local communities and families. And they have been proven to reduce investment risks, which is why Oikocredit lends much of its institutional and individual investors’ capital to social enterprises that support women”.
From desert land, to shop, to a jolly good cup of organic, herbal tea
Chamomile lawn, Egypt. Photography, SEKEM
Over the decades, much of the previously lush, fertile land surrounding the River Nile has been destroyed by urban expansion or overtaken by desert tundra. The small canals which feed into the Nile overflow with rubbish and sewage, damaging the local ecosystem and irrigation of small parcels of land used by smallholder farmers. For local communities who have lived off the land for centuries, this renders the environment unhealthy and the soil useless for generating subsistence crops or a modest income.
The Philippines is the world’s third highest risk area for natural disasters. Frequent typhoons and cyclones bring excessive rain and wind, threatening the livelihoods of around 60% of the poorest groups who tend to live in rural communities and must also contend with rising sea levels, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
40 years of existing is reason enough to celebrate. But even more so when one’s birth marked the beginning of a world-wide movement founded on the principles of justice, self-reliance and economic empowerment for all, with a mission to alleviate conditions of poverty by providing credit and resources to the most disadvantaged, financially-excluded, “unbankable” communities in the world.
As part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, Oikocredit hosted a dinner on 11 February for the partners and peers attending Biofach, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food. This year Biofach attracted 2,348 exhibitors, representing 76 countries to discuss all things fair trade and organic.
In India, around 300 million of its 1.2 billion inhabitants live below the $1.25 a day poverty line. When Oikocredit began operations 40 years ago, the number was almost the same, with around 320 million people living below the poverty line. In 1978, India’s mortality rate was estimated at 14.2%*. In this context, Oikocredit granted its first ever loan in India to finance housing loans for low-income earners in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu.