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Why volunteer groups?

Oikocredit Support Associations are collectives of volunteers whose members are engaged in promoting Oikocredit’s mission. Volunteer associations are part of a long-standing tradition in Oikocredit’s work. In addition to being active volunteers for Oikocredit, Support Associations are members of the Oikocredit International cooperative.

Oikocredit has two Support Associations based in the US – the Western Pennsylvania Support Association and the Oikocredit Northwest Support Association based in Seattle. Click on the regions to learn more about how you can get involved in your local Support Association.

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Study tour heads to India

470px-bifpl-in-1917-01.jpgFebruary 11 2015

This year Oikocredit’s annual study tour will head to India. Groups of volunteers, members and investors will travel across southern and eastern India to visit Oikocredit partners. The tour will begin in Hyderabad and then split into groups that will travel for seven days from 15 to 21 February.

The annual tours give Oikocredit investors, staff and volunteers the opportunity to learn more about the financing of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social enterprises. Study tour participants will meet with Oikocredit staff and experience how Oikocredit contributes to financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment in rural and urban areas of India.

Why India?

The Republic of India is the second-most populous country in the world with over 1.2 billion people of which about a third still live below the poverty line. As Gouri Sankar, managing director of Maanaveeya (Oikocredit’s subsidiary in India) explains; “Of India’s poor, over half earn less than US$ 1 per day. Microfinance is one of the means to reach this impoverished group and support their efforts to earn a living. Through Oikocredit’s investments in microfinance as well as agriculture, we are able to make a positive impact in India.”

Oikocredit’s role in India

Oikocredit has a long history in India, going back to 1978 when Oikocredit made its first ever loan to Vellore Christian Medical College to provide housing to 200 of the hospital’s lowest income earners. Since then, Oikocredit’s opened offices and set-up an India-based subsidiary, Maanaveeya, which has become one of the leading social lenders in India. With over 70 partner organizations and a loan portfolio of around € 75 million, Maanaveeya is actively supporting the microfinance sector, as well as promoting agriculture value chain financing. Over the last 10 years, Maanaveeya has enabled its microfinance partners to provide its clients with not only access to financial services, but also training, personal development and education.

Participants of the study tour will visit Oikocredit partners to see first-hand the financial and social benefits Oikocredit has brought to the country. This will include meeting microfinance borrowers and employees of five microfinance institutions as well as a renewable energy partner.

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