Financial co-op strengthens UK ethical investment options

By staff writers
October 31, 2010

A worldwide financial cooperative that promotes global justice by empowering disadvantaged people with credit has officially launched its activities in the UK.

Since 1975 Oikocredit (Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society UA) has offered loans, guarantees and investment capital to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fair trade and other businesses.

Today, Oikocredit operates in more than 70 developing countries.

The agency has been developing its networks and investors in Britain for several years, working with church and community-related groups and individuals, including Ekklesia.

Oikocredit held its launch event last Wednesday (27 October 2010) at the famous St Martin-in-the Fields church, which has been associated with programmes to support the poor for many years.

"Oikocredit is giving people in the UK the opportunity of investing ethically and making a social difference," said spokesperson Yvonne Wilcox.

Sophi Tranchell, managing director of Divine Chocolate was a speaker at the launch. She declared: “Oikocredit invests in vital services for communities and individuals all over the world, giving them a first step toward being financially independent. They have the vision to give support in many innovative ways depending on the country and circumstances - their investment in Divine, the chocolate company owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana is one example - and I am delighted to see the organisation launching in the UK"

Patrick Hynes, Oikocredit’s UK representative added: “Oikocredit has been empowering the lives of disadvantaged people for 35 years, with investors drawn from across Europe and North America."

He explained: "Oikocredit finances enterprises through its own network of local offices reaching over 70 developing countries. Our 560 microfinance partners alone serve 17 million people, of those, 85 per cent are women. Women can be empowered by access to financial services and in turn, help to enrich the lives of their families and also the communities in which they live.”

It is possible for both individuals and organisations to invest in Oikocredit, and receive both a financial and a social return.

“Investing say, £4,000 in Oikocredit, with the typical dividend of two per cent per year, would give the investor £80 per year but gives the person receiving a loan a new independence”, Mr Hynes said.

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