This year Oikocredit celebrates its 40th anniversary as a cooperative - 40 years of lending investors’ capital to partner organisations, in order to help disadvantaged people in developing countries build their businesses, support their families, sustain their communities and help protect the planet.
40 years ago, the idea of providing small housing loans to very poor people in distant countries was an extremely radical one. In 1975, Oikocredit forged this frontier and pioneered the concept of social investment in microfinance, when it made its first loans to a housing project for the lowest grade employees of a medical college and hospital in Vellore, India. Oikocredit’s plan for social investment was devised and driven by world-wide churches who wanted a socially responsible investment channel that would enable individuals and organisations to invest their money in positive development. By 1989, 269 houses had been built in Vellore with the capital from Oikocredit’s investors. That same year, Oikocredit paid its first dividend to investors and made its 100th loan.
Homes for hospital staff. Vellore, India (1978)
40 years later, in February 2015, a team of Oikocredit staff, members and investors will visit some of the projects in India which Oikocredit funds today. Projects such as those of Oikocredit partner ASA-Vidiyal, who contribute to community development and support low-income earners in the drought-prone areas of Tamil Nadu through literacy, education, IT, market linkage and entrepreneurship programs; as well as food, water and sanitation projects. And those of Oikocredit partner ANNAPURNA, who have teamed up with ONergy (a leading solar energy systems provider) to pilot a new solar product, which provides affordable clean energy and alternative home-lighting systems for rural communities who lack access to conventional sources of energy. Follow the latest news here on our blog or @OikocreditUSA.
Today, 28 million people are offered financial and other support by Oikocredit’s 811 fair trade, cooperative, social enterprise and microfinance partners, including our leading UK Fairtrade partners Divine Chocolate, Cafédirect, People Tree and Twin Trading. The varied ventures in which Oikocredit invests its capital (via debt and equity) now span agriculture, trade, health, water, sanitation, renewables, education and many others that place a social mission at the centre of activities across 63 countries in the developing world.
As at September 2014, Oikocredit has 52,000 investors and $829.3 million in oustanding loans.