How our cooperative navigated change in 2023 gives me confidence for 2024

How our cooperative navigated change in 2023 gives me confidence for 2024

Mirjam 't Lam.jpg

Mirjam 't Lam, Oikocredit's Managing Director

02 January 2024

A New Year’s message from Oikocredit Managing Director Mirjam ‘t Lam

2023 was a troubling year for people everywhere who work for a just, sustainable and peaceful world. Yet, despite the backdrop of increasing instability, unrest and unpredictability, and what often appears to be a mounting storm facing humanity, I am pleased with the way Oikocredit has continued to create value and develop its social impact while implementing major change initiatives.  

Our collective investment of time, effort and resources in 2023 enabled us to move successfully from designing and piloting to executing our new strategy, and from planning the largest ever transformation of our cooperative’s capital-raising model to its implementation.  

Oikocredit’s staff, support associations, cooperative members and Supervisory Board deserve enormous credit and gratitude for steering us through these two important transitions. The way we have managed and continue to manage change is commendable. This has been an organisation-wide effort. 

We appreciate the many members and investors who have kept faith with our work, despite a relative few deciding to redeem their investments (as we anticipated) during the changeover from member shares to participations as our investment product. While we regret to see investors and capital leaving, we continued to grow our development financing portfolio of loans and equity investments, and our capacity-building. We successfully initiated new community-resilience-enhancing projects in sectors such as education, housing and water and sanitation. And our outreach to women, farmers and inclusive finance clients continued to increase.  

None of this would have been possible without prudent management of our liquidity and of the risks that come with such major changes. Throughout the year we could serve our investors with redemptions as well as extend loans and investments to partner organisations. For me, this is proof that our risk management processes have become more robust.  

As I look back over 2023, many other successes also come to mind. Among these I would highlight how we have further developed our digital, data and other capabilities to create better insight into progress of our strategy implementation and impact creation. Equally valuable is the way our partners are incorporating insights from our groundbreaking Client Self-Perception Survey in their work. Partners increasingly draw on the survey’s findings to tailor their products and services more closely to end-clients’ priorities. 

My personal takeaways from the past year also include satisfaction that Oikocredit has matured and become more agile – as a network and as a team of individual social impact investment professionals.  

Thinking of the year ahead, I am confident our cooperative is well equipped to execute its strategy effectively. Life is rarely straightforward, and there will be challenges internally and externally. But I am sure that together we can overcome them by empowering ourselves; by taking full ownership of our cooperative’s mission; and by embracing innovation, digital approaches, collaboration and continuous improvement through learning. As always, we will also need to be efficient and apply common sense in creating value. 

As 2024 begins, let’s renew our commitment to ensure our partners and their clients, and our members and investors, continue to see tangible positive results from all aspects of our work. Let’s maintain momentum and build on our achievements over the past 12 months to make our cooperative even better. I firmly believe we can. 

Wishing all members of our Oikocredit family, community and movement a fulfilling and more peaceful year.

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