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Tweets For Justice:


Representing Oikocredit: 40-Year Banker For “Unbanked” People Around the World

January 13, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

In-house counsel Ben Aidam; Robert Gaudet; Deputy Director Barbara Marcussen at Oikocredit’s international headquarters in Amersfoort, the Netherlands (January 2016)

“I am proud of the work that my client, Oikocredit, performs around the world,”  said Mr. Gaudet.  Oikocredit, an ecumenical cooperative based in the Netherlands, recently hired Mr. Gaudet to represent Oikocredit in a loan transaction in the United States. Mr. Gaudet previously represented Oikocredit in similar transactions on which he collaborated with in-house counsel Ben Aidam and business manager Barbara Marcussen.

In January 2016, Mr. Gaudet visited Oikocredit’s international headquarters in Amersfoort where he met Mr. Aidam and Ms. Marcussen who was recently promoted to Deputy Director.  Ms. Marcussen now manages a portfolio of assets in Africa.  RJ Gaudet & Associates congratulates Ms. Marcussen on her promotion and vision for continued growth and pursuit of Oikocredit’s founding values.

Although it manages substantial assets, Oikocredit has stayed true to the values of its founding members, such as the World Council of Churches, to help small businesses pursue big dreams, especially in lesser developed countries.  Oikocredit provides financial assistance through micro-finance, direct loans to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), and private equity investments. Over the past five years, Oikocredit’s total assets have doubled to 982 million Euros, an astonishing rate of growth.

At a 40th anniversary event in Berlin in 2015, Dr. Konrad Raiser, former General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, noted in an opening speech that the purpose of Oikocredit is to pursue social justice. The World Council of Churches endorsed the establishment of Oikocredit, in 1974, to address an unmet need.  Oikocredit (which started with a different name) had just 1 million U.S. Dollars in starting capital.  Since then, Oikocredit’s assets have multiplied almost 1,000 times.  The field has grown with numerous Micro-Finance Institutions who, sometimes, compete among themselves.

The founding principles of Oikocredit are “justice, self-reliance, and economic empowerment for all, with a mission to alleviate conditions of poverty by providing credit and resources to the most disadvantaged, financially-excluded, ‘unbankable’ communities in the world.” Originally, these values stemmed from the faith of Oikocredit’s founding members.  Today, hundreds of churches still serve as members of Oikocredit.  The mission is supported by a diverse staff with different languages, races, beliefs, and nationalities.  Dozens of worldwide offices, in different regions, provide local expertise.

The work of Oikocredit has affected millions of lives.  In 2014 alone, Oikocredit financing supported 37 million people.  Females accounted for 86 percent of all borrowers, and 50 percent of borrowers lived in rural areas.  In recent years, Oikocredit expanded its scope to include renewable energy, increased numbers of SMEs, and agricultural cooperatives.  Renewable energy projects enable people without electricity to obtain solar-powered lights that students can use for studying at night and which small business owners can use, e.g., for weaving cloth at night.  These small, tablet-sized lights are cheaper ($50 or less) than other solar-powered lighting systems which cost more ($192).

Oikocredit collaborates with partner Thrive India to provide affordable solar-powered lights as part of a “one child one light” campaign.  Oikocredit also partners with BBOXX to bundle together contracts from customers who bought solar home systems that the customers pay off through periodic payments.  Those payments are used to secure notes that BBOXX DEARs sells to Oikocredit, secured by the future receivables.

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