February 12, 2009

Socially-just investment fund beats recession

by David Masters

At a time when the commercial finance markets find themselves battered by global recession, a church-backed micro credit agency is bucking the trend, increasing lending by one third over the past year.

Netherlands-based Oikocredit, set up in 1975 by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), offers a socially just means of investment for churches and individuals.

Investments in the fund are used to provide financial support to poor people around the world who are often excluded by the commercial banking sector.

Last year, Oikocredit’s partners reached 15 million households in both remote rural and urban areas.

Oikocredit said in a statement: “Our partners continue to support entrepreneurs, enabling them to build a better life for themselves, their families and community.

“The social performance of our project partners is key to this success.”

Capital for the group’s €365 million investments comes from 500 churches and church related organisations, as well as around 30,000 individuals grouped in support associations.

Investors in the fund receive an annual dividend of around 2%.

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