Reflecting on 2018 and looking forward
Oikocredit’s Managing Director, Thos Gieskes, reflects on 2018 and shares what is ahead for the cooperative.
2018 marked 50 years since the idea to create Oikocredit came about at the World Council of Churches meeting in 1968. Looking back, we are proud of what Oikocredit has achieved over the past decades.
In recent years, we have seen the world around us changing rapidly, and external trends are impacting the work we do. While our social impact continues to be strong, our financial results have been under pressure as noted in recent annual reports. This is mainly due to the global low interest rate environment which has persisted for a number of years, as well as increased competition in the social impact investing industry.
Our updated strategy helps us to address these issues and we have started to implement measures to improve our financial results by concentrating our efforts across key sectors and markets along with reducing complexity and costs in our organisation. We have also set ourselves ambitious goals to continue to grow with our partners and maximise social impact for the people they serve.
Despite 2018 being a year of change, we achieved modest growth in our development portfolio in line with our objectives. We also saw a continued healthy inflow of funds from our members and investors, mainly thanks to the work of Oikocredit’s Support Associations. We have achieved good progress in implementing our updated strategy over the past year, and we can already see the benefits starting to emerge.
As planned and previously shared, the impact of the changes we are currently implementing will be realised this year. Because of this, our financial results for 2018 remain under pressure and we expect an improvement in our financial results only after 2019. Our financial results are currently being audited and we’ll be able to share more soon in our annual report.
Organisational change is rarely easy, but it is important that we evolve and adapt to stay relevant as an organisation. Our passion for creating social impact remains at the core of these changes, and we are as committed as ever to improving the lives of low-income people and communities through our work.
Oikocredit’s combination of over 40 years of experience in impact investing, a loyal investor base, a truly global network of partners and local offices, and dedicated staff and volunteers creates a proposition that few other organisations can match. I am confident that with this unique combination we will be able to achieve our strategic goals and strengthen our position as a leader in the social investing sector in the years to come.