Harmful emissions from fossil fuels are a major contributor to climate change. With CO2 levels at their highest in 650,000 years, the economic livelihoods of low-income earners are increasingly threatened. At the same time, there is a growing demand for electricity in low-income countries. By investing in renewable energy, Oikocredit aims to meet the growing demand for electricity in underserved regions in a way that is economically, socially and foremost environmentally sustainable.
Oikocredit’s mission is to challenge all to invest responsibly. Oikocredit provides financial services and supports organizations to improve the quality of life of low-income people or communities in a sustainable way. Oikocredit has developed an environmental policy that provides guidelines on how Oikocredit can contribute to a balanced ecosystem. The overall aim is to reduce the direct and indirect environmental impact of our operations and support organizations that contribute positively to safeguarding the environment.
Renewable energy unit
In 2014, Oikocredit established its renewable energy unit based in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. In close cooperation with its network of 63 countries around the globe, it actively identifies and develops investment opportunities in renewable and energy efficiency projects in low-income countries. The unit provides financing for projects in solar (PV), wind, small hydropower, bio-mass and energy-efficiency, with an initial focus on Latin America.
The renewable energy unit is in the process of building and managing a portfolio consisting of both debt and (project) equity investments. The portfolio will consist of investments in infrastructure projects that provide clean power to the electric grid. A typical investment size for these projects is $5 to $10 million.
In addition, the unit will also finance ‘distributed clean power generation’ projects, where the electricity (or heat) is generated at the location where it is used. These projects are small when measured in power capacity or capital outlay, but can be very significant to our mission when measured in environmental and/or social impacts. An example of this type of project is a loan to a coffee cooperative in Costa Rica to install a 50 KW solar system on the roof of their processing facility.
Triple bottom line
Renewable energy contributes to our triple bottom line of financing projects and organizations that are financially sustainable, create a positive social impact for low-income earners and protect the environment.
Investments in renewable energy have many tangible benefits, such as job creation, reduction in the use of imported fossil fuels and slowing the pace of climate change. Oikocredit applies the expertise gained in promoting positive social impact with our partner organizations in microfinance and agriculture equally to its renewable energy investments.