Enhancing our mission: Mirjam 't Lam on the new way to invest
Mirjam 't Lam, Oikocredit's Managing Director
Oikocredit recently introduced a new capital-raising model in most of the countries where it attracts investments. The new model allows any eligible individual or organisation to invest directly in the cooperative. Oikocredit's Managing Director, Mirjam 't Lam, shares her insight on how the cooperative's new capital-raising model came to be.
Why did Oikocredit look for a new model?
As Oikocredit, we want to continue to fulfil the mission of the cooperative. If you look at the world around us, you will see increasing inequalities, increasing uncertainties, and people in low-income countries suffering from the impact of climate change and natural disasters.
Keeping that in mind, we have looked at our capital-raising model and how to deploy the funds that investors entrust with us in the best way possible, now and in the future. That led to a change in the capital-raising model, which had been an organically developed model in different countries. With the new model, we will be able to simplify how we raise capital from investors and thereby service our mission better.
What will be new for investors with this capital-raising model?
Only one main thing is new for investors: the direct investment into the cooperative, rather than investing via an Oikocredit support association or the Oikocredit International Share Foundation (OISF).
The new capital-raising model now allows investors across different countries to be a part of the same global community, on the same terms and conditions.
Why didn't Oikocredit introduce a standardised model sooner?
When Oikocredit started almost 50 years ago, support associations were founded in several countries. Every country or region developed their own identity in line with the overall values of Oikocredit and with local laws and regulations. For a long time, this diverse model functioned very well. But in recent years, increasing regulation has made it more challenging to manage a model that differed from country to country.
If you look at what is happening in the European context, we have seen a lot of harmonisation in European laws which has given organisations like ours the ability to follow one law and then be active in the whole of Europe. This harmonisation and collaboration of governments enable us now to have one uniform product, the participation, across several countries. Several years ago, this would not have been possible.
How does the new capital-raising model serve Oikocredit's strategy?
If you look at our 2022-2026 strategy, we want to ensure that with the money entrusted to us, we make a difference in the livelihoods of low-income people. We want to make them more resilient, as well as the communities they live in. By creating a more unified capital-raising model, we expect to be able to free up more capacity for partnerships and projects that benefit these communities.
Investors can be seen and grouped as a community in support of our mission. Under the new capital-raising model, our investors will now directly invest in the cooperative via participations and become part of the global community of Oikocredit while staying connected with their local community via the support association. It's nice that the new model allows us to establish a more direct connection between the communities of our end beneficiaries, partners, and our investors and support associations.
Does the new capital-raising model change how Oikocredit works with its partners?
It doesn’t change how we work with them. The beauty of the new model is that we can continue to support our partners into the future. By creating what we believe is a more future-proof model, there is more security of funding from our investors to our partners. This gives our partners and, moreover, our staff who facilitate this work the confidence that they can continue the work with our partners for the fulfilment of our mission in the years to come.
What are you proud of having seen in the preparing of this model?
I am really proud that we are here today with a new capital-raising model launched in almost all our active inflow countries.
In the new model, we have a single channel through which we can ask investors to invest money and ensure we invest that money in our partners, so they can empower low-income people with the products, services and opportunities they need.
That we succeeded there, as a cooperative, is something I am proud of. We have taken that journey and practised the cooperative's principles. We have collaborated well and come to a simpler model for investors, enabling the cooperative to invest in the Global South to improve the livelihoods of people.
What are you looking forward to focusing on next?
With the simplification and standardisation of the investment journey for every investor, I expect us to have more time to improve engagement. We can engage via the support associations but also digitally with our investors. We will be enhancing the local communities of investors, as well as the greater global community, which is in line with our strategy. I really look forward to this as a next step.
On the other end of the spectrum, with our partners, we will focus on enabling them to do their work in the more uncertain times that the world is currently experiencing. We want to ensure our partners are equipped to service their end-beneficiaries better. We will work to showcase these accomplishments so we can celebrate and be proud to be a cooperative that can facilitate resilient communities and empower people in those communities to improve their livelihoods.
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