Oikocredit, the leading private international microfinancier, which gives support to poor communities and social enterprise, has announced a significant growth in activity and impact in its preliminary results for 2007.
The figures reveal an unprecedented growth in disbursals of 44% compared to 2006: a total of 135 million Euros was disbursed to 267 project partners. The total amount outstanding with these partners is 277 million Euros, an increase of 33%. Considering these overall positive results, Oikocredit says it intends to continue paying a dividend of 2% to its members.
Oikocredit was originally established by the World Council of Churches, but it works with people of all faiths and none in seeking to puts small-scale loans to work in support of economically deprived communities and those at the cutting edge of development and social change in an unequal world.
At present, the group is looking to expand its range of investors from Britain.
Oikocredit now supports 637 institutional project partners in the field, including 390 microfinance institutions (MFIs). Through these partners, its funding reaches more than 630,000 individual clients throughout the developing world, improving millions of lives in the process.
“The figures tell a very positive story,” said Oikocredit Managing Director Tor G. Gull. “But growth is not only measured in financial performance. It’s also a question of social impact, reaching out to those who need support most.”
Credit for development has become a dynamic market, especially in the microfinance sector. In 2007, total member capital increased by 16% to 319 million Euros. Despite this increase, demand continues to outpace supply. Several new initiatives were taken during 2007 to attract even more capital and further expand the Oikocredit investor base.
During 2007, Oikocredit began issuing shares in British pounds, Canadian dollars and Swedish kroner, in addition to Euros and US dollars.
In 2008, possibilities to offer a savings product will be explored, based on a successful pilot project in South Tirol, Italy, executed in collaboration with a local Raiffeisenbank.
Finally, in October 2007, Oikocredit took part in the launch of MicroPlace, an innovative online system of investing. A wholly owned subsidiary of E-bay, MicroPlace opens up the possibility of investing in microfinance to the retail investor in the US, starting with as little as $100.
In addition to microfinance, Oikocredit supports other types of organisations in developing countries such as fair trade producers, agriculture cooperatives, small and medium enterprises. Moving forward, Oikocredit is seeking to increase its investments in such organisations in 2008.
Oikocredit’s 2007 Annual Report will be published at the end of the first quarter of 2008 and will be available at www.oikocredit.org .
The opportunity to invest directly in UK Pounds was launched in October 2007. To date, there have been 41 new investors from the UK providing a total investment of £351,000.
“This may seem a small contribution in total, but this will help many more individuals work their way out of poverty”, said Patrick Hynes, Oikocredit’s UK National Representative. “It’s a very encouraging start, and I hope 2008 will see many more new Oikocredit investors”.
Those interested in helping can download a UK prospectus and application form  and also get information about projects  which show how the money is used. Further questions may be directed to the Oikocredit UK Representative, or your local support association.