Rotary and Oikocredit launch strategic partnership
A dairy cooperative in Githunguri, Kenya. In 2009, clubs in Kenya and the Netherlands received Foundation funding to upgrade dairy farms and provide vocational training for the Oikocredit-supported milk cooperative near Nairobi. Photo courtesy Oikocredit International
The Rotary Foundation Trustees have reached an agreement with Oikocredit International, a Netherlands-based cooperative financial institution that promotes socially responsible investing, to form the first strategic partnership under the Foundation’s Future Vision Plan.
Through the partnership, the Foundation will offer packaged grants for Rotary clubs and districts to work with microfinance institutions within the Oikocredit network. Together, these institutions and Rotarians will identify local needs, develop effective approaches, and structure training programs to improve entrepreneurs’ business skills.
“This strategic partnership with Oikocredit enables Rotary to work with a globally recognized leader in the field of microfinance in order to make a meaningful contribution to poverty reduction,” said Foundation Trustee Chair Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar. “It allows Rotary club members to directly contribute their valuable expertise and skills without administering the loans directly.”
Individual Rotary clubs have worked successfully with Oikocredit partners in the past. In 2009, clubs in Kenya and the Netherlands received Foundation funding to upgrade dairy farms and establish training farms belonging to an Oikocredit-supported milk cooperative near Nairobi. The result was an increase in the quality and quantity of milk production.
What does Oikocredit offer Rotary?
Oikocredit is a cooperative financial institution that offers loans or investment capital to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fair trade organizations, and small- to medium-size enterprises in the developing world. Investors earn modest financial returns and the knowledge that their money is being used to fight poverty and promote fair trade in an environmentally responsible manner.
Founded in 1975, Oikocredit has US$684 million (€480 million) invested in over 800 organizations in more than 70 countries, benefiting more than 20 million people through its microfinance partners.
“Knowledge and training are as important as financing,” explained Tor G. Gull, Oikocredit’s managing director. “Oikocredit’s financing relationship with local entrepreneurs and microfinance organizations means we also see the need to help them strengthen their capacity to develop further, both economically and socially. Rotary funding and expertise from volunteers will greatly facilitate this effort.”
Rotary Foundation Global Grants support large, international projects with sustainable, high-impact outcomes in Rotary’s areas of focus. Packaged global grants developed by the Foundation and Oikocredit align with the area of economic and community development. Because the administrative work of designing the project and finding a cooperating organization has already been done, Rotary clubs and districts can focus on identifying beneficiaries, providing technical expertise or direct service, and publicizing the project.
One hundred districts are participating in the Future Vision pilot, a three-year test of the Foundation's streamlined grant structure, which began 1 July. All districts will begin using the model on 1 July 2013.
Information on how pilot clubs and districts can apply for packaged global grants to work with microfinance institutions within the Oikocredit network will be available soon at www.rotary.org