Oikocredit believes in solidarity, co-operation, grass roots, partnership and social justice. This is reflected in the relationships we’ve built with the more than 800 partners we work with, in nearly 70 countries across the world.
We work in spirit of partnership and co-operation
We use strict financial, social and environmental criteria to analyse the suitability of potential partners, only seeking to finance organisations that:
- Create sustainable income and employment for disadvantaged people in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Central & Eastern Europe.
- Are environmentally sustainable and respect animal welfare
- Work within social/microfinance, agriculture, or renewables.
- Are mid-stage growth, are revenue-generating and are (or can soon become) financially sustainable.
- Demonstrate a clear need for foreign investment and are looking for equity or debt funding of between €2m and €10m.
- Have a suitable management structure, with women in management positions.
If we determine that a potential partner charges excessive interest rates, pays excessive salaries or dividends, or does not see its clients as a priority, we reject the investment application. Oikocredit furthermore never finances organisations that are involved in activities such as child labour, arms productions, explosives or other dangerous materials.
Once we’ve committed to working with a partner, we stick by them for the long haul with patient capital and, more often than not, no exit strategy.
“Oikocredit has a big challenge, which is to make this world a little better and more just. So we have to continue to work as we have been doing with integrity and in line with our values and social mission. By the time our cooperative reaches its 45th birthday in 2020, we hope that our partners will be benefiting 55 million people around the world.”
Finance Plus: Building capacity and technical skills
Our 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 “investing for development”, we also offer capacity building donations and programmes so that our partners can operate more efficiently and effectively.
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 support helps our partners to deliver the social and environmental returns that our investors expect. At the same time, this additional support manages the risks we expose our investments to.
“Our partners need more than finance alone. Improving the quality of life of people and their communities in a sustainable way calls for more than just credit or equity, important as these are. At Oikocredit, we therefore offer a ‘development finance plus’ approach, which incorporates social performance monitoring and capacity building. Through capacity building, we help our partners acquire new knowledge, skills and technology; strengthen their governance; and improve their business planning, access to markets and overall performance.”
Ging Ledesma, Director of Investor Relations and Social Performance
Women make up half the world’s population, but they represent 70% of the world’s most financially-excluded individuals. They work two-thirds of the world’s total working hours, but earn only 10% of the world’s income. Of the 72 million children currently not in school, 50 million are girls.
We therefore work with partners who specifically aim to help women and redress this gender imbalance. Microfinance, in particular, has a unique ability to reach women and give them the support they need to help grow their small businesses, keep their families healthy and encourage education for their children.
There’s a multiplier effect too; women who are able to generate their own income not only support their families, but also enhance their communities: providing housing, sanitary facilities, health and food services.
“When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40% for a man."
Source: “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” The Girl Effect.