Oikocredit, the worldwide co-operative which challenges churches and others to share their resources through socially responsible investments, has become a 'body in association' with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).
An Oikocredit representative was appointed in October 2007 to encourage investment from people across Britain and Ireland, which had largely been untapped by the agency before.
"With just one member of staff, resources are thinly spread. So Oikocredit is delighted to become a body in association with Churches Together," said Oikocredit’s UK representative, Patrick Hynes. "This provides a bridge into the parish networks, where we hope we may stimulate interest in finding out about Oikocredit and fair finance through parish groups."
He added: “Oikocredit provides an ecumenical opportunity to work together on our shared Christian mission of seeking economic justice for all. Through Oikocredit, people are empowered to work their way out of poverty, and we are all empowered to stand in solidarity through our investment.”
Oikocredit was established as an initiative of the World Council of Churches in 1975. It has made a unique contribution to grassroots economic development, through investment in the enterprises of people who are poor.
Globally, Oikocredit’s microfinance partners alone reach 12.2 million people with loans for development. After 33 years Oikocredit continues to inspire churches and individuals to invest part of their savings in the enterprises of disadvantaged people.
And the need is greater than ever as demand for fair finance keeps growing year-on-year. At the same time Oikocredit has repaid every penny to investors who have redeemed their investment, so the poor have turned out to be a safer investment than some critics initially envisaged.
Oikocredit has created through its own local staff in developing countries a pipeline for economic justice, channelling much needed investment money from the Global North to the South.
But how can Oikocredit maintain this flow of investment for the future? How can it provide a simple way for people in parish churches to engage with the idea of Oikocredit and social investment? These are the challenges the agency now intends to tackle with renewed vigour.
"It is great news that the churches have given official recognition to Oikocredit", said Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think tank Ekklesia today.
"But what is really needed is more investment. As the global credit crunch bites, it is the poorest communities who are most vulnerable. Oikocredit offers a way of maximising the impact of small investments and opening up fresh economic avenues. It is a really important way to make a difference, and one that is open to people of all faiths and simply 'good faith', as well as Christians."
Further details and information about how to invest and get involved in Oikocredit are available from: