Oikocredit, Social Impact Investor Fostering Sustainable Development through Responsible Finance
Oikocredit is a social impact investor and worldwide cooperative with five decades of experience in promoting sustainable development through investments. With its central office in the Netherlands and staff presence across the world, Oikocredit supports partner organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America with loans, equity investments, and capacity building. The institution is guided by the philosophy of empowering low-income people to enhance their quality of life.
Oikocredit is able to support its partner’s long-term finance because of its staunch community of investors and cooperative members. The cooperative has more than 49,000 investors at the time of writing. The company has three key focus/sectors /areas that may have significant outreach and impact lives of the excluded and marginalized communities. These areas are financial inclusion, agriculture and renewable energy.
Oikocredit operates through a network of 510 partners with € 981.1 million development financing outstanding, working in 55 countries currently where we have partners, however we are only focusing our work on 33 focus countries.
Mirjam ‘t Lam joined Oikocredit as the Director of Finance & Risk in November 2020 and as of 1 December 2021 has been serving as Oikocredit’s Managing Director. With 20 years of experience in impact investing and financial services, including commercial and strategic roles, as well as executive and non-executive governance positions, Mirjam brings a wealth of expertise to her position. Her experience extends internationally.
Prior to joining Oikocredit, Mirjam ‘t Lam served as the Chief Financial Risk Officer (CFRO) at Arise, an African investment company, for nearly four years. During her time at Arise, she played a significant role in the establishment of Arise, which was founded by FMO, Norfund, Norfinance and Rabobank.
Since assuming the role of Managing Director, ‘t Lam has been instrumental in establishing a new governance structure at Oikocredit. This structure comprises a Managing Board composed of four statutory directors and an Executive Committee consisting of the Managing Board members and six non-statutory directors. The Executive Committee is responsible for overseeing strategy implementation and the day-to-day operations of Oikocredit. The new governance structure has been designed to support the implementation of the organization’s 2022-2026 strategy, with a specific focus on enhancing decisionmaking, efficiency, effectiveness and fostering a stronger emphasis on social impact.
In collaboration with the Managing Board, ‘t Lam has played a leading role in crafting Oikocredit’s new 2022-2026 strategy through extensive engagement with internal and external stakeholders. This strategy prioritizes supporting communities in building resilience while continuing to concentrate on financial inclusion, renewable energy and agriculture as the cornerstone of Oikocredit’s work.
Oikocredit aims to bolster community resilience by expanding and innovating its range of lending, investing and capacity building initiatives in sectors such as housing, education, healthcare, water and sanitation and community infrastructure. The organization’s community-focused approach remains grounded in learning from and collaborating with partners who directly serve low-income individuals, ensuring their interests and needs remain at the forefront.
Furthermore, the strategy places significant emphasis on strengthening connections among Oikocredit’s members, investors and the cooperative’s activities in focus countries. This commitment aims to enhance Oikocredit’s role as a global movement and catalyst for change.
Oikocredit reaches an estimated 42.2 million financial inclusion end-clients and almost 2.59 million farmers. As an example of its work, the cooperative supported its partners in providing 121,000 homes with access to renewable energy thanks to investments made over a 12-month period.
Oikocredit has made community-focused loans part of its new strategy, going from concept to pilot and establishing initial partnerships in support of the community-focused approach. With its ongoing effort to achieve its goal of high social impact and sustainable development, the cooperative has evolved to become a significant player in the microfinance sector, providing financing to project partners in 33 focus countries.
The Genesis of Oikocredit
The idea of Oikocredit emerged from a meeting of the World Council of Churches in 1968, where young church members proposed the creation of an ethical investment channel that promotes peace and global solidarity. The concept was seen as both innovative and controversial at the time.
Oikocredit Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society (EDCS) was subsequently established in 1975 to address the desire of church members to ensure that their investments were contributing to peace and beneficial development, particularly in the context of global issues such as the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa.
Oikocredit’s primary objective since its inception has been to support organizations that empower low-income individuals to improve their quality of life. It offers an alternative investment route for organization and individuals, allowing them to support sustainable development and economic empowerment for marginalized communities.
Over the years, Oikocredit has grown and expanded its reach internationally, providing financial services, loans and capacity building support to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fair trade organizations and other social enterprises in various regions around the world. Its work aligns with the principles of impact investing, seeking both financial return and positive social and environmental impact.
Insights on the Impact of an Emerging Pandemic
As the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and confronts other profound and interconnected crises of climate, biodiversity, livelihoods, poverty, social inequality and war, the “new normal” appears to be characterised by uncertainty and change. All people are exposed to these crises, which invariably have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income people everywhere. In this context, Oikocredit’s work is more relevant than ever. Such issues have been at the core of the cooperative’s mission for five decades, with ethical investment in organisations that support low-income individuals and communities in improving their quality of life.
Oikocredit’s Core Values at a Glance
• People: Oikocredit supports organisations that create opportunities for financially disadvantaged people, regardless of their faith, culture, age, or gender.
• Sharing: The cooperative provides a vehicle for meaningful sharing. An uneven distribution of resources, wealth and power can lead to conflict. When the global community is prepared to share what they have, respect each other and work together, justice and peace can prevail.
• Ecumenical spirit: Around the world, people of faith are willing to share their resources. Oikocredit forms part of that worldwide coalition of solidarity.
• Grassroots: Development is more successful when it comes from the grassroots. People’s proposals and participation are essential to all actions and policies in Oikocredit’s cooperative culture.
• Integrity: Mutual respect presumes honesty and veracity. Oikocredit is committed to communicating openly and honestly about all aspects of its own rules while keeping an open mind when listening.
• Environment: Life depends on a healthy environment; hence, it should be conserved. Oikocredit contends that an equitable distribution of resources and power is necessary for maintaining a healthy equilibrium in nature.
Accomplishments and Achievements
Along the Way At the end of 2022, Oikocredit’s development financing portfolio totalled € 1,007 million. When looking at the breakdown across sectors; in financial inclusion, Oikocredit’s largest focus sector, the portfolio was € 767 million; in agriculture it was € 175 million; and in renewable energy the portfolio reached € 56 million.
Building a Successful Business Model
Oikocredit is a cooperative that unites thousands of people who are committed to enhancing low-income people’s quality of life in a long-term manner. The success of Oikocredit as a global cooperative is largely due to its committed networks of experts, volunteers and member organisations.
The city of Amersfoort in the Netherlands, is home to Oikocredit’s central office. Additionally, the cooperative has offices in each of the three priority regions—Africa, Asia and Latin America—with local specialists on staff who collaborate closely with their partners.
Executive Committee: Oikocredit International is led by an executive committee that oversees day-today operations. The Supervisory Board is in charge of monitoring the Executive Committee.
Supervisory Board: The entire cooperative is governed by the Supervisory Board. The board has a balanced representation of experience, expertise, gender and geographical regions, representing many continents.
Members’ Council: The Members’ Council is a consultative and advising organisation that serves as a general representation of the churches, support associations and other member organisations, including social banks, which are members of Oikocredit.
Oikocredit’s Future Outlook The cooperative’s 2022–2026 plan, which was the result of significant consultation with internal and external partners, emphasises helping communities build resilience while maintaining a core focus on financial inclusion, renewable energy and agriculture. Through an expanded and innovative variety of lending, investment and capacity building in the housing, education, healthcare, water and sanitation and community infrastructure sectors, the cooperative will increase community resilience.
Oikocredit continues to put low-income people’s interests and needs at the centre of their new community-focused strategy, which attempts to avoid topdown solutions by learning from the bottom up with and from partners who engage with them directly. The plan also places a focus on fostering relationships with and among investors, members and the work they undertake in the focus countries to enhance the cooperative’s role as a global movement and leading impact investor.
Maanaveeya Success Story
Maanaveeya was incorporated in 2004 as fully owned subsidiary of Oikocredit and is engaged in the business of development financing. It is registered as a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with the reserve bank of india (RBI). The company primarily lends to microfinance institutions (MFIs), NBFCs lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), renewable energy and development projects that benefit the poor. It is committed to responsible lending and meeting the needs of credit for development. The company is professionally managed with the active support of Oikocredit, which has industry-leading systems and expertise in development finance. It has supported many small and nascent microfinance companies with debt funding. The funding helped these MFIs to grow and scale their operations and become reputed companies over a period.
India’s Oikocredit International journey is a remarkable success story, marked by Maanaveeya’s ability to overcome significant challenges such as the 2010 Andhra Pradesh microfinance crisis, the 2016 demonetization, the 2018 ILFS default-led liquidity crisis and the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 in 2020. Maanaveeya, as part of Oikocredit, has consistently turned these crises into opportunities, emerging stronger and providing unwavering support to its partners and end-clients, helping them navigate through the difficult times.
Maanaveeya is still a wholly owned subsidiary of Oikocredit Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society U.A, The Netherlands, is a systemically important NBFC-ND with a capital outstanding of INR 17 billion (an equivalent of 190 Million EUR. Maanaveeya is a shinning star for Oikocredit in creating impact and sustainable financial performance.
The organization has diversified its exposure across 86 partners as of March 2023 in the sectors such as Microfinance, SME finance, renewable energy finance and agribusiness finance. It has also diversified its asset class in terms of risk categories. Most of the Maanaveeya’s assets are exposed to entities that are rated A and above. True to its philosophy of promoting diversity and inclusiveness, Maanaveeya supported, Profit and Not for profit entities.
During FY 2023, the company disbursed impact loans worth Rs 10,756 Million, which is 117% of the yearly target. The gross Loan portfolio increased by 20% by end of FY 2023 as compared to the same in the corresponding previous FY 2022 and reported as Rs: 16,638 million, which is 110% of the budgeted amount of Rs: 15,065 million.
The company reported gross profit of Rs: 906 million during FY 2023, which is 145% of the budgeted amount of Rs:626 million, as compared to the gross profit of Rs:577 million reported in the corresponding previous FY 2022, recording a 57% growth.
Maanaveeya’s strong governance structure is based on a multinational and gender-diverse board that steers the organization toward its vision. It’s equally competent and diverse management team devises strategies to ensure that the board’s mandates are fulfilled. Institutional strength reflects in the corporate credit rating (CARE A-) and the strong rating assigned by the RBI based on its inspection of Maanaveeya’s business.
Maanaveeya support the smaller organization to grow and create impact at large scale. Our support has helped many companies to become sustainable and profitable. On average each partner has received at two-three loans. The company is one of the leading funders supporting high impact sector and segment like Renewable energy, Agriculture sector besides funding developmental NBFC’s to promote inclusive growth.
Throughout the journey Maanaveeya has supported inclusive finance institutions MSMEs, innovative energy solution providers, NGOs and many others in fulfilling their environmental and social goals. Maanaveeya invests in people and planet by promoting strong ESG systems and processes. Maanaveeya’s standards of internal controls, statutory compliance, risk management and ESG assessment of its partners lead to mutual benefit.
Man of the Hour
Maanaveeya is setting new benchmarks and breaking new ground to realise its mission in India by increasing access to financing and non-financial support like capacity building for the partner organisations it funds. Oikocredit’s partner organisations, in turn, are able to provide support and opportunities to their clients, suppliers, members and employees.
Dr. G. Gouri Sankar is the man of the hour leading this well-known developmental finance institution with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry with institutions of repute. He is currently the Managing Director of Maanaveeya. Dr. Gouri Sankar is an Agricultural Engineering graduate and has a doctorate from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi. Dr. Gouri Sankar worked with numerous international companies like SIDBI, Standard Charted Bank and World Bank Group, in a variety of roles.
Maanaveeya’s Board believes in the true spirit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy and is committed to going beyond the prescribed provisions of Section 135 of the Act read with the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules 2014. The board decided to allocate more than the mandated 2% of profits for CSR activities to showcase their dedication towards society.
The CSR Committee of Maanaveeya recognized the company’s role as a social impact investor and proposed increasing the CSR budget for FY 2022-23 to Rs. 100 Lakhs (approximately 2.3% of profits) to support additional CSR activities. The company believed that by exceeding the regulatory requirement and allocating 2.3% to 2.5% of profits, Maanaveeya would set an example for other companies to follow.
Among the proposed CSR activities, the company identified clean energy and solar rooftop support as a potential focus area for Maanaveeya. If the company Maanaveeya would like to be known for one CSR activity, it should be clean energy initiatives.
The CSR initiatives inter-alia included
1. Supported M/s. LV Prasad Eye Institute for 40 KWP rooftop solar power plant to install on rooftop of LVPEI, Vijayawada branch, Andhra Pradesh.
2. Supported M/s. Akshayapatra Foundation for 50 KWP rooftop solar power plant to install at Akshayapatra Kitchen, Kandi centre.
3. Supported M/s. Rotary Club of Jubilee Hills for renovation and repair of Government School, Bhagavathguda, Rajendra nagar, Hyderabad.
4. Supported M/s. Narayan Seva Sansthan, Hyderabad with a lift (elevator), artificial limbs for 84 physically different people, skills training in tailoring for 60 participants (mainly for the differently abled poor and marginalized section, especially women) and rooftop solar power plant (20 KWP) to meet the entire NSS building utility requirement.
Maanaveeya won the Mahatma Award for CSR Excellence in 2022. The selection committee accorded this award to Maanaveeya because of the organization’s innovative thinking in multiplying its impact, by utilizing clean energy solutions and supporting institutions like Akshaya Patra Foundation and LV Prasad Eye Foundation, reputed for their social impact. Maanaveeya was recognized by Team Marksmen as one of the most preferred workplaces in 2022-23 among two recipients from the BFSI sector.
In terms of its future outlook, Maanaveeya maintains focus on its mission of empowering low-income people and communities who have access to limited resources and striving to achieve higher social impact. The organization is deeply attuned to the evolving needs of the impact investment space and remains proactive in responding to them.
Maanaveeya continues to align its products and services to respond to the needs of its partners and the low-income people it serves. By staying responsive to these needs, Maanaveeya ensures that its initiatives effectively address the challenges faced by marginalized communities. With an unwavering dedication to creating positive change and uplifting society, Maanaveeya is well-positioned to navigate the future with purpose and adaptability.
Reference: Financial figures are based on the Annual Report 2022 and Facts and Figures for Quarter 2, while social performance figures are derived from the Impact Report 2023.
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