AMERSFOORT, The Netherlands, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In 2010, concerns have accompanied successes in the development finance sector. For Oikocredit - one of the world's largest private microfinance financiers - the year was one of solid social and financial performance and further innovations in the field of social performance management.
In its 35th year, Oikocredit's total assets grew 19% to EUR 640 million by year end. In addition, the development financing portfolio - the money in the field - increased 22% to EUR 481 million, up from EUR 394 million the previous year.
Oikocredit's network of partner cooperatives, microfinance institutions and small to medium enterprises served more than 20 million people, increasing access to fair financial services and markets for the poor.
Support for development finance from investors also strengthened during 2010, with capital inflow at just over EUR 64 million. Oikocredit's net result in 2010 amounted to EUR 16.1 million, of which EUR 8.7 million (2% of member capital) is proposed to be paid as dividend to its members. The remainder will be used for capacity building and additions to reserves.
Sharpening the focus
With the successes of 2010 came concerns in microfinance. The growing sector has attracted stakeholders with varying motivations. Reports of abusive collection practices in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and over-indebtedness of clients have highlighted the importance of selecting the right partners for Oikocredit. Supporting and challenging those partners to improve social performance and due diligence continues to be at the forefront of Oikocredit's mission. At a local level, all regional offices have appointed social performance management specialists to assist project partners with social performance development and management.
Internally, Oikocredit has extended its expectations of project partners, advocating the Client Protection Principles to ensure end-clients are treated fairly. The Principles were integrated within new partner and new contract approval criteria and play a vital role in ensuring partners maintain their social mission.
This year, Oikocredit plans to further increase its portfolio by focusing on projects in African countries, and emphasise the role of agricultural enterprises in development. Oikocredit will work to remain a leader in the field of social performance management and continue to work for increased transparency in the sector, tailored products and the protection of end-clients.
Oikocredit is a cooperative financial institution that offers loans or investment capital to MFIs, cooperatives, fair trade organizations and small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world. Oikocredit offers a dual return to its investors: financial and social. In addition to earning modest financial returns, investors are secure in the knowledge that their money is being used to fight poverty, promote fair trade and respect our planet's natural resources.