Our FAQs offer answers to some most common questions on the coronavirus.
This information was last updated on 23 June 2021.
Frequently asked questions
Our FAQs offer answers to some most common questions on the coronavirus.
How have Oikocredit’s operations been affected by the coronavirus? How is Oikocredit managing the risks arising from the pandemic?More questions
Oikocredit is continuing its business activities. We continue delivering on our mission to support our partners, and the low-income people they serve, at a time when their need for support is even greater. In our 2020 Annual Report we shared details about how we have managed the risks arising from the pandemic and what its effect was on our 2020 financial results. So far in 2021 we have made encouraging progress in building back our loans and investments portfolio and supporting new partners. Read more here >
With much economic uncertainty remaining in our focus countries, we continue to assess risks that could affect the value of our development financing portfolio. We keep our members and investors informed about the value of their investment in our news and quarterly updates.
We remain alert to ongoing and new developments related to Covid-19. We have dedicated groups comprising Oikocredit Managing Board members and internal specialists who monitor:
- the status of our investments in and loans to our partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America;
- questions and concerns from our members and investors, as well as investment and redemption flows;
- our term investment portfolio and other liquid funds; and
- general developments related to the pandemic, including its impact on the welfare and effectiveness of our staff working across the world.
How has Oikocredit’s work with its partners been affected by Covid-19?More questions
We continue to be in close contact with our 540-plus partner organisations to ensure that we understand their evolving needs and to ascertain how Oikocredit can best help address them, particularly in situations where partners may face financial difficulty. Even in heavily pandemic-affected countries most partners are now coping relatively well, but we are aware that this could change.
After we granted payment holidays (extended repayment periods) to 113 partners during 2020 to ease their financial situation, the number of partners in this category reduced to 69 by the end of the year and fell further to 37 in Q1 2021, signalling overall improvement of portfolio quality. 90% of partners are now making their repayments according to schedule. See also: What effect has coronavirus had on Oikocredit’s performance?
Our recently launched online interactive partner portal has strengthened our partner monitoring, improved information sharing and sped up communications with partners.
During 2020 we offered webinars and online encounters for partners, sharing advice on: business continuity and cash flow; ensuring health and safety of staff and clients; understanding impacts on clients; stress testing, risk and scenario planning; and learning from sector leaders. We offered some follow-up webinars in 2021. See also: What role has capacity building played in Oikocredit’s response to the pandemic?
Our partners have responded positively to the support we have provided, especially the smaller institutions. The external threats we have faced since the start of the pandemic have brought our partners and ourselves closer together.
In addition to our own efforts, Oikocredit continues to align with other impact investors in coordinating our responses to Covid-19 challenges jointly with each other in support of our partners. In 2020 we committed to two joint initiatives to support the financial inclusion sector during the pandemic:
How have Oikocredit’s partners and their clients been affected by the coronavirus?More questions
For our partners, many of their clients were unable to operate as usual for much of 2020 due to Covid-19 and restrictions on movement and social interaction reducing economic activity. This was especially the case in the microfinance sector, less so in agriculture and in renewable energy. At Oikocredit we adopted special processes to assess, monitor and support our partners more closely, just as our partners did with their clients. See also: How has Oikocredit’s work with its partners been affected by Covid-19?
The situation has improved since late 2020 and in the early months of 2021, but the future remains uncertain. We have seen differences between sectors and countries in terms of the severity and effects of the pandemic, its timing and duration, and measures taken by governments. New waves of the pandemic may occur, so we will keep monitoring the situation closely.
It is likely that the low-income communities our partners work with will continue to be affected by the pandemic and its consequences for some time. Accordingly, we believe that our partners and the people they serve may continue to need extra support, which has the potential to assist their recovery and longer-term resilience.
We are concerned about global inequality in the distribution of anti-coronavirus vaccines. This is an issue that affects many partners and their clients. Humanity will remain at risk as long as some countries are largely excluded from the preventive benefits of vaccination.
What role has capacity building played in Oikocredit’s response to the pandemic?More questions
As part of our proactive response to the coronavirus crisis in 2020, Oikocredit offered additional capacity building support to its partners. Initiatives have included a webinar series on crisis management, virtual peer exchanges to allow partners to share crisis best practices with one another, and dedicated webpages of resources for partners.
We created a coronavirus solidarity fund and used this to help our partners provide extra support to their clients. By the end of 2020 the fund had distributed € 70,287 to 38 partners in 19 countries. We prioritised financial assistance for more vulnerable partners and clients that had to comply with government lockdown restrictions on mobility and social gatherings, and with regulations on personal protection, sanitation and hygiene. And we broadened the fund’s objectives to include emergency assistance to at-risk partners and their clients and members in the agriculture sector, as well as to help partners adjust their operations to continue business in innovative ways.
We have re-engineered our ongoing capacity building programmes to run without in-person meetings until lockdown restrictions are fully eased.
How have Oikocredit’s members and investors been affected by the pandemic?More questions
Our members and investors have shown great commitment to Oikocredit, and the vast majority have stayed loyal. A small number of redemptions and reduced inflow led to a minor decrease in member capital in 2020, but our investment base has remained stable, and since the start of 2021 members and investors have provided an encouraging inflow of new capital. See also: What effect has the coronavirus had on Oikocredit’s performance?
Regular dialogue about inflow markets with the Oikocredit support associations has helped maintain our links to investors and has kept them informed about what Oikocredit has been doing to weather this storm. Since 2020 we’ve reported to investors on our financial performance (unaudited) on a quarterly basis, including on net asset value per share, and more broadly on the effects of the pandemic on our organisation and our partners. In Q1 2021 we began to also provide commentary on key quarterly ratios.
How have Oikocredit’s staff been affected by the coronavirus?More questions
The health and safety of our employees remain a top priority for us. As a global organisation, we have adhered to the public health guidelines issued by the authorities in all the countries where we work.
Most of our staff are still working from home, as they have done since country lockdowns began in 2020. We have good infrastructure in place to make this possible, using digital tools for example in monitoring our partners and portfolio and in performing due diligence for new financing. We have been impressed by how well our staff and our partners have adapted. Managing competing home and work responsibilities has been demanding for many, however, and we remain committed to supporting the personal well-being of our staff.
What effect has the coronavirus had on Oikocredit’s performance?More questions
Despite our best efforts, Oikocredit’s financial performance in 2020 could not entirely escape the consequences of the coronavirus and ensuing economic downturn, but it showed resilience. Oikocredit made a net loss of € 22.2 million in 2020 compared with the net positive result of € 14.3 million in 2019. This outcome reflected our decision when the coronavirus first struck to protect our capital and maintain high levels of liquidity.
Q1 2021 has proved better than we expected, with a net result of € 11.9 million. Net asset value (NAV) per share rose from € 210.50 to € 213.11, close to the pre-pandemic level. Our net result and NAV were positively influenced by a one-off release of provisions amounting to € 9.5 million. The total development financing portfolio grew by 1.3% during the quarter from € 845.1 million to € 856.3 million, although it is still below the portfolio size at the start of 2020 (€ 1,064.6 million). Portfolio at risk, represented by the PAR 90 percentage of loans with repayments at least 90 days overdue (excluding partners’ payment holidays), has improved from 5.8% at end-2020 to 5.6%. As noted above, member capital has grown in recent months after falls in 2020, and liquidity is healthy at 30.8%, enabling us to accommodate portfolio growth while also supporting the issuance and redemption of shares.
How has Covid-19 affected Oikocredit’s term investments and other liquid assets?More questions
Oikocredit’s treasury specialists monitor the assets we keep aside for liquidity management purposes. During 2020 we allowed our liquidity buffer, held in cash or term investments (bonds), to grow to 33.1% of total assets as a prudent response to the crisis and in case more investors requested redemptions. In Q1 2021 liquidity reduced slightly to 30.8%, mostly driven by increased disbursements in India. The term investment portfolio comprises investment-grade liquid bonds traded on public markets, which, due to being of relatively high quality, are less vulnerable than some other types of bonds to fluctuations in the financial markets. A significant part of the term investments portfolio is invested in ‘green bonds’, selected to support climate-related or environmental projects.
We saw a small positive result on our foreign exchange for Q1, while our term investments (bonds) portfolio lost a little in value as a result of higher interest rates in the United States.
Do you expect the coronavirus to continue to affect Oikocredit going forward?More questions
Although, as a consequence of Covid-19, our cooperative made a loss in 2020 and saw some erosion of reserve levels, the first quarterly results of 2021 give us confidence that Oikocredit’s portfolio will continue to regain lost ground, and we expect income to grow as we rebuild. But we remain cautious. There is still much economic uncertainty in our focus countries. We will maintain strong cost controls and stay alert to new risks, whether resulting from Covid-19 or other unforeseen developments.
Care, continuity and opportunity will be our watchwords as local economies and the development financing sector gradually open up again.
Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place in June, with cooperative members joining online, and we presented members with a progress report on the new purpose-driven four-year strategy. It has been necessary to slow the process a little because of pressure on resources from the pandemic. We now aim to have the new strategy ready by year-end.
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