Message from the Managing Director: “Working together through uncertain times”

Message from the Managing Director: “Working together through uncertain times”


Thos Gieskes, Managing Director, Oikocredit

26 March | 2020

Thos Gieskes, Managing Director of Oikocredit, has the following message for Oikocredit’s stakeholders.

“As the coronavirus continues to spread, the challenges it’s causing continue to mount. Our thoughts and prayers are with the sick, and with the brave people on the frontline of the crisis, like healthcare workers.

“As a cooperative with people at the heart of its values, Oikocredit wants to do what it can to help.

“We’re in close contact with the partner organisations we invest in, to understand their needs in light of the pandemic. We’re also listening carefully to our members and investors, to make sure any concerns are addressed. We’re also sensitive to the needs of our staff, as they continue Oikocredit’s work through these extraordinary circumstances. All these stakeholders, across all the countries where they live, are affected by the coronavirus.

“Unfortunately, it’s still too early to say what the full consequences of this pandemic will be for our stakeholders and for our cooperative as an organisation, and this problem is not unique to Oikocredit. However, there are some things about which we can be certain.

“We’re certain that people across the whole world will feel the effects of this crisis. We’re also certain – from what our partners are telling us, from what our staff across Africa, Asia and Latin America are telling us, and from what our 45 years of experience in social impact investing tells us – that some people will feel the effects much harder than others.

“These are the economically vulnerable, the people without safety nets. They’re the low-income people we target with our work, the low-income people our partners serve. These are people without access to affordable healthcare, for whom a virus is an immediate risk. For these people a lockdown means no income and no social security to fall back on. These are people whose lives were hard even before the pandemic.

“That’s why Oikocredit remains committed to its mission, and to supporting its partners wherever we can. We want our partners to continue supporting people on low incomes, because as the virus spreads, their need for support is even greater than before.

“At the same time, we have a duty to our members and investors. Our investors put their money with us for social impact, but also for financial sustainability. These two tenets remain central to how we approach our work. If you’re an investor with questions, your local Oikocredit office or support association is always ready to help.

“As we carry on with our work in these times of uncertainty, I’m grateful to our partners for their commitment to continuing their work and to their social goals during these challenging times.

“I’m also thankful to our own staff, who are working hard to keep Oikocredit’s operations as normal as possible in these abnormal times.

“But above all, I’m grateful to our investors, because they make our work possible. Our partners and the people they serve benefit from our investors’ long-term outlook and their solidarity. Our investors bring Oikocredit’s mission to life by ‘investing responsibly’.

“By continuing to work together, and by insisting that key Oikocredit values like ‘people’ and ‘sharing’ are vitally important even in these uncertain times, I’m certain we can overcome these new challenges.”

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