Women's cooperative Cocovico
The women of Cocovico started out selling their wares on the pavements of Côte d’Ivoire's largest city, Abidjan in the 1980s. They nestled their stalls between abandoned buildings and empty spaces, making their living in unsecure, open areas. They were regularly threatened with expulsion by local authorities and it was clear they needed a more permanent space to operate.
In an effort to become more organized, six street vendors pooled their resources and started an all-woman cooperative of vegetable sellers: Cocovico.
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Rio’s fashion forward approach
In Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, fashion is the third largest industry, valued at over US$ 60 billion per year. Each day tourists and affluent Brazilians flock to its famous stores that cater to an international and fashion-forward client-base. However, behind Rio’s glitz and glamour is another side to the fashion industry, which is slowly growing in prominence
across the city.
A strong voice for cocoa farmers
For Oikocredit, selecting the right partners is the most important element in achieving its development objectives. Oikocredit supports both Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate. Oikocredit invested in Divine Chocolate in the UK and in the USA in 2006, primarily to finance the expansion in the USA, and later in 2011 began a lending relationship with Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana.
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Putting sustainability into practice
Protection of the environment is a key objective for Oikocredit. As part of its drive to achieve this, Oikocredit adheres to an environmental policy. This policy aims to contribute positively to a balanced ecosystem and increase environmental protection through the projects of the partners Oikocredit finances.
Barefoot Power goes off the grid
Throughout the world, people light their homes with kerosene lanterns which are dangerous and expensive sources of light. While the smoke affects indoor air quality, the open flame also has the dangerous potential to start fires.
Thanks to a small Australian company, Barefoot Power, more than 40,000 households across Africa and Asia now have safe, affordable lighting in their homes. Within a few years, Barefoot Power successfully brought its solar powered lamps to around two million people in more than 40 developing countries.
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Gromada Credit Union
After the Soviet Union disbanded, Ukraine's economic output dropped dramatically plunging a majority of the population into poverty. Having been the essential agricultural and industrial centre of the Soviet Union, its large collective farms and heavy industry were no longer competitive. So people who lost their jobs became microentrepreneurs in order to survive.
During the 90s recession the country experienced severe hyperinflation, but things improved from 2000. Tough times struck again in 2008 when unemployment soared from 3% to 9.4% in just nine months. Today, 35% of the Ukraine population still lives below the poverty line.
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Cooperativa Manduvirá was founded by 39 members in 1975. Today, it supports 1,700 members, more than half of whom produce organic sugarcane, sesame, cotton, stevia, fruit, and vegetables. Protecting the environment and the rights of the small farmers are the main priorities for the cooperative: it boasts organic certification for its agricultural production methods and has been carrying the official certification of the Fairtrade Labeling Organization since 1999.
Oikocredit welcomed Cooperativa Manduvirá as a partner in late 2011, when they received a loan to support their dream: to set up an environmentally-friendly plant to produce organic sugar.
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Client Protection Principles
Oikocredit believes microfinance is a valuable tool to empower people to create a better future, so long as clients' needs and wellbeing are the focus of its services. Microfinance investors play a special role in ensuring the protection and promotion of client benefit and welfare, and Oikocredit takes this responsibility seriously. To ensure that the MFIs in which we invest maintain client welfare as a priority, we promote the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles (CPPs).
Oikocredit endorsed the CPPs in September 2008 and has since collaborated with other investors to put the principles into practice and help MFIs ensure their operations become fully compliant.
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Asociación Chajulense Va’l Vaq Quyol (Chajul)
Asociación Chajulense Va’l Vaq Quyol (Chajul) is a Guatemalan association of coffee producers which has marketed Fair Trade organic coffee since 1989. It is one of Oikocredit's 290 cooperative partners.
Civil war raged in Guatemala from 1960 until 1996. In the Ixil Triangle, where Chajul operates, thousands of civilians were killed, tortured or disappeared. The victims were predominantly Mayan descendants. Chajul's coffee and honey farmers - made up largely of Mayan descendants - follow a traditional Mayan maxim: "work the soil without violence".
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CMI Radio programme: preventing over-indebtedness
'Life and Finance' is a radio programme in Cambodia co-produced by the Cambodian Microfinance Institute and Oikocredit. The programme aims to educate Cambodia's rural population on financial issues whilst also encouraging sustainable business.
By educating the population about financial principals, more informed financial decisions can be made by the population, helping borrowers understand the risks of taking on too much debt. Preventing over-indebtedness for borrowers of microfinance loans is one of Oikocredit’s seven Client Protection Principles.
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