Inspired by the power of people
On 1 October 2016 Hann Verheijen joined Oikocredit International as our new credit director. Hann is no stranger to our work, having been director of Oikocredit Nederland for the past four years. We asked Hann for his thoughts about the journey that has brought him to Oikocredit, his new role and what lies ahead.
What motivates you to work for Oikocredit?
“After working in corporate finance, I moved to Triodos, Europe’s largest ethical bank, which was more aligned with my personal values. Ideas central to Oikocredit’s mission, such as the power of people to improve their lives and the human right to live in dignity, mean a lot to me. Joining Oikocredit Nederland, the Dutch support association, four years ago and now Oikocredit International has been a natural progression. Our cooperative’s explicit commitment to sustainability and our work on renewable energy are also really important. Climate change is a huge threat, especially to the world’s most vulnerable people.”
What experience from your previous work has prepared you for your new role with Oikocredit?
“As director of business banking at Triodos I learned a great deal, including as a board member of the bank’s microfinance fund. Subsequently, Oikocredit Nederland had been through a difficult period when I joined as director. We reignited the spirit of enthusiasm there and achieved strong growth. Oikocredit has an immense responsibility to safely use investors’ funds while maximizing social impact. With market conditions constantly changing, this means evolving new investment segments with acceptable risk while remaining true to our mission.”
After working on the inflow side of Oikocredit, what can you bring to outflow?
“Inflow and outflow need to connect with each other. Investors want to be involved with what is accomplished with their money, and we must base our outflow strategy firmly on Oikocredit’s vision. Today one billion people lack access to electricity, and two billion lack access to finance. Such global challenges will continue to drive our lending and investment.”
Which partners have you visited and what did you find inspiring when you travelled to the field?
“My work with Oikocredit has taken me to Cambodia, Ghana, India, Malawi and Peru. Pudhuaaru Financial Services (PFSL) in Tamil Nadu state, India, is for me a particularly inspiring partner. Besides providing inclusive finance for low-income villagers, PFSL helps clients prepare for future financial needs. I have also been hugely impressed by the entrepreneurship of our partners’ clients, who dream of securing good health and a sound education for their children. There is so much ability among low-income people. At Oikocredit Nederland we found three inventive entrepreneurs in Malawi, the world’s poorest country, to help us create a promotion campaign.”
What is your vision for your new role as credit director?
“I want to learn more from Oikocredit’s rich experience and to co-create with colleagues our organization’s future. My knowledge and experience will, I hope, help our cooperative be increasingly effective in working for a just and sustainable global society.”