Lessening the Covid-19 impact today makes a big difference for the future [Interview]
Andrea Domínguez, Oikocredit’s Global Capacity Building Specialist
There has been huge interest from Oikocredit’s members and investors to know more about Oikocredit’s coronavirus solidarity fund. Here we interview Andrea Domínguez, Oikocredit’s Global Capacity Building Specialist, and find out more about the fund and how it might develop.
Oikocredit is supporting partners in a number of ways through the pandemic, and with the solidarity fund is able to target additional financial support to particularly vulnerable partners and end-clients.
Andrea Domínguez coordinates the capacity building functions of Oikocredit across its network of regional offices. She now also coordinates Oikocredit’s coronavirus capacity building support to our partners, for example through our coronavirus solidarity fund. Andrea has been with Oikocredit for 15 years, having initially worked in our Uruguay office.
How did the coronavirus solidarity fund come about?
Many Oikocredit end-clients work in the informal sector of micro and small enterprises. While their businesses were impacted, there was still the possibility to keep their business afloat. But the cost of the sanitation materials and the protective equipment required is an additional cost that strains their already dwindling resources.
The support of these particularly vulnerable partners and their end-clients was where Oikocredit staff identified an opportunity for Oikocredit to help.
What does the fund look like and what does it do?
The coronavirus solidarity fund, with an initial contribution of € 25,000 from Oikocredit’s International Support Foundation was launched in April 2020. The facility is not an independent fund or foundation in its own right, but money set aside in Oikocredit’s existing foundation, the Oikocredit International Support Foundation.
Initially the objective of the fund was to support end-clients of our MFI partners to acquire protective equipment and sanitation materials. After feedback from partners the objectives were widened to include our agricultural partners, and other urgent needs.
The funds are limited, how do you choose who gets the support needed?
The initial € 25,000 was small and so it needed to be targeted at those most in need. By using our local office staff’s knowledge, we were able to target the funding at the partners who needed it most.
The criteria to be eligible for funding are that the partner must be:
- working in an area with severe Covid-19 risk (e.g. densely populated urban areas)
- supporting end-clients with potentially on-going enterprises who are required to adopt measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19
- in contact with their end-clients and preferably also actively involved in measures to support them during the pandemic
- not already receiving support from other sources.
How many partners have received funding and how did they use the funds received?
Oikocredit supported 15 partners with the initial € 25,000 in the fund. These were 12 financial inclusion partners, 2 agriculture partners and a healthcare partner. In addition, Oikocredit Foundation Germany raised € 25,000 for the coronavirus solidarity fund. As a result, ten more partners were approved for support and we plan to approve five more.
What effects did this have on Oikocredit’s end-clients?
We’ve received reports on how the funds have been used. Here are a few examples:
- sanitation packs to end-clients selling or distributing essential household items
- awareness training for end-clients through multiple channels
- distributing basic provisions to end-clients in lockdown unable to leave their homes
- sanitising kits for end-clients and partner employees
- disinfectant spraying equipment for end-clients’ houses and village office premises.
Is it possible for people/organisations to donate to the fund?
Yes, you can make a direct donation to Oikocredit International Support Foundation. For more information please see the Oikocredit’s website at:
Or you can contact the Oikocredit support association in your country at:
Do you have some closing thoughts for our partners and investors?
I thank our members and investors, whatever you contribute and in whatever way. The crisis has impacted us all, but of course the most vulnerable are going to be the ones who are most affected, especially in the medium and long term. It is not only about the pandemic, but the economic crisis that will follow.
I now live and work in the Netherlands with my heart in Latin America, as most of my family and friends are there. The pandemic is affecting us all, but the economies in Europe are better prepared to face the economic crisis that Covid-19 is causing. In the disadvantaged parts of the world, the impact will be felt for much longer. So, if we can diminish the impact even in a small way today, we can make a big difference in people’s future livelihoods”.